The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

Local News

February 10, 2013

Trial to start for alleged identity thief

GREENVILLE — Trial is scheduled today for a local man, facing multiple counts in connection was an alleged eight-month string of writing hot checks and creating fake IDs.

Jury selection is set in the 354th District Court this morning in the retrial of James Timothy Bonham of Greenville, as the state’s highest appeals court ruled last year the prison sentences given to Bonham in 2011 were illegal.

Bonham is 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. He has pleaded not guilty.

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 the Texas Department of Criminal Justice 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.

Bonham is facing a maximum punishment of up to 20 years in prison on each of the fraudulent use or possession of identification information indictments and up to two years in a state jail on each of the forgery counts.

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