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February 15, 2013

Second prison sentence issued in ID theft case

GREENVILLE — A local man whose original convictions and prison sentences on multiple charges of writing hot checks and creating fake IDs were overturned on appeal, has been sentenced to prison again.

The retrial of James Timothy Bonham of Greenville was halted Tuesday after he entered a plea of guilty to one of the seven felony counts he was facing. Bonham was then sentenced Wednesday to 22 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, with credit for time already served.

The state’s highest appeals court ruled last year the prison sentences given to Bonham in 2011 were illegal.

Bonham was facing five counts of forgery of a financial instrument and two counts of the fraudulent use or possession of between 10 and 50 items of identification information.

Bonham pleaded guilty to one of the fraudulent use or possession counts.

Bonham was originally indicted on 19 felony counts of forgery and fraud related to what prosecutors claimed was a scheme to bilk multiple victims out of several thousand dollars. He entered guilty pleas in March 2011 and was sentenced to 20 years in prison on 18 of the charges.

Bonham allegedly manufactured four fake driver’s licenses and/or identification cards, which he used to cash, or attempt to cash, 15 forged checks ranging from $35 to more than $3,000 between Dec. 4, 2009 and Aug. 18, 2010.

A total of 16 of the indictments were each punishable upon conviction by a maximum sentence of up to two years in a state jail, with three of the charges punishable upon conviction by a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

The maximum punishments for some of the indictments were enhanced up 20 years in prison, due to Bonham’s previous criminal record.

The indictments indicated that Bonham had four prior felony convictions on his record, including two for forgery and one each for burglary of a building and unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon.

Bonham was convicted of 13 charges of forgery, four charges of fraudulent use or possession of identifying information, and one charge of manufacture with intent to sell a counterfeit instrument and was sentenced to 20 years in prison on each charge.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Court had previously asked the court to review 17 of the convictions and provide findings of fact and conclusions of law.

In an opinion issued in August of last year, the appeals court said that it was granting the new trials for Bonham, which was in agreement with the trial court and the prosecutors on the case.

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