According to County District Attorney Jeffrey Rosen and Deputy District Attorney Tom Flattery, an Elmwood inmate identified as 26-year-old Darin Volk of Turlock headed up the scheme with 11 others.
Volk allegedly enlisted the help of fellow inmates for the use of their commissary and telephone accounts to launder money obtained from stolen credit card accounts. Commissary accounts are given to inmates in prison and allow them to either deposit funds they earn from prison jobs, or allow friends and family to deposit funds for them, which can then be used to purchase items from the prison’s commissary store. Inmates can also authorize friends and family on the outside to withdraw money from their commissary accounts.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, one of Volk’s co-conspirators on the outside, Brian Hoar of Turlock, used stolen credit card accounts to deposit money into the commissary and telephone accounts of Volk and several other inmates.
Volk would then direct three other co-conspirators—Heather Murphree of Turlock, Shanna Conroy of San Jose, and Jaimelynn Sakoda of San Jose—to withdraw a portion of the funds from the inmate accounts. If the inmates authorized the withdrawals from their accounts, they were rewarded by retaining the remainder of the funds, as payment for their cooperation.
“Jail personnel followed standard procedure and issued Santa Clara County checks to the three women without knowing that the accounts had been funded by fraud,” District Attorney Rosen said in a statement about the case.
Volk and his co-conspirators are being charged with conspiracy to commit identity theft, and identity theft.
Rosen also said that Volk and several others are being charged with “conspiracy to possess a cell phone in jail,” which is a crime.
“It is also alleged that, for a short time, Volk and other inmates had the use of a contraband cell phone inside the Elmwood facility,” said Rosen.
From April 24 to May 3, of this year, Rosen explained that the contraband cell phone was used to make 1,375 unauthorized calls from within jail, including 367 calls placed to online retailers, banks and shipping businesses.
“It is alleged that Volk arranged fraudulent commissary trust account deposits as payment for access to the contraband cell phone,” Rosen said.
The Elmwood money laundering scheme is not Volk’s first foray into the world of identity theft—the District Attorney’s Office said that, at the time he committed these crimes, Volk was serving time at Elmwood for a large-scale, multi-jurisdictional, counterfeit credit card manufacturing scheme.
For his part in the money laundering scheme, Volk faces an additional 25 years of local incarceration. Deputy District Attorney Flattery says Volk has been arraigned, and all of the defendants are scheduled to appear in court for a plea date on Wednesday, Dec. 21.
This case comes on the heels of a big announcement California Attorney General Kamala Harris is expected to make today in San Jose, regarding a new task force she is forming dedicated to investigating technology crimes and identity theft.
Michael Hearns an Anti Money Laundering specialist with over 24 years of AML experience can also be found at:
and on twitter at : http://twitter.com/#!/LaunderingMoney