The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

May 5, 2011

Identity theft ring investigation growing

By BRAD KELLAR
Herald-Banner Staff

GREENVILLE — What is already one of the largest identity theft investigations in Hunt County history continues to expand.

A Rains County woman, already indicted on multiple felony charges in connection with alleged forgeries and frauds, has pleaded not guilty to additional indictments involving the same overall scheme.

Stephanie Marie Bain, 26, of Point, was indicted by the Hunt County grand jury last Friday on three counts of engaging in organized criminal activity and one count of the fraudulent use/possession of identification information, more than 50 items. The indictments were issued sealed, pending Bain’s arraignment Wednesday during a hearing in the 196th District Court. Judge Steve Tittle accepted the pleas, appointed an attorney to represent Bain on the charges and scheduled an interim hearing for May 25.

Bain was already scheduled to appear for an interim hearing on that day in connection with seven previous indictments, including two for engaging in organized criminal activity,  three for credit/debit card abuse and two for the fraudulent use/possession of identification information.

In one of the latest organized crime indictments, Bain is alleged to have acted alongside eight other individuals to break into automobiles and commit thefts on 19 separate occasions between Sept. 10 and Dec. 1, 2009.

 The remaining two indictments made public Wednesday allege Bain acted alongside seven other individuals to obtain and use more than 50 items of identification, such as Social Security numbers and credit/debit card accounts, belonging to 27 victims on or about Jan. 20 of this year.

Bain was alleged in all of the indictments to have been acting with Edgar Guadalupe Espinoza of Greenville.

Espinoza is currently facing a June 6 trial date on seven indictments for engaging in organized criminal activity, four indictments for forgery and one count of the fraudulent use/possession of identification information.

According to the indictments, Espinoza was one of a group of eight individuals who acted together to obtain names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth and checking account and credit card numbers from 47 people, then used the information to pass 28 forged checks, with a total value of almost $7,500, at local banks and businesses between May and November of last year.