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Two End Up Convicted After Boneheaded Crimes

Each week The River City News talks with Kenton County Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Sanders about his weekly e-newsletter that highlights who was sent to prison or got probation in the previous week. At the bottom of this post you can find a link to that newsletter. Here are this week's questions and answers:

RCN: Looks like a long list of convictions & sentences handed down this week. Also, out of the 41 people featured, twelve are for drug-related crimes. That's more than 25%. Is that a typical percentage of the crimes your office is faced with prosecuting?

SANDERS: I wish we had the budget to keep track of stats because I'm asked about them all the time.  We don't, however, so the best I can do is estimate.  I'd say 25% is probably lower than usual.  Drug cases seem to make up about 50% of our total caseload and that is just for possession and trafficking cases.  If we added in all the theft, stolen property, forged instrument, criminal mischief, and burglary cases committed by drug addicts looking to supply their habit, it would probably be a lot higher.  Before anyone starts clamouring for legalization of all drugs as a solution, just keep in mind legalization won't make all the related crimes decrease.  To the contrary, they will increase exponentially.

RCN: What can you tell us about the case of Lonnie Turner? It says he pleaded guilty to theft of identity and got a year in prison.

SANDERS: There are basically two ways to commit Theft of Identity.  The more stereotypical way is to use someone else's identity to obtain something of value.  This usually involves opening up credit cards or utility bills in someone else's name.  The less known but more common Theft of Identity is when you use someone else's identity in an attempt to avoid detection by law enforcement.  This usually involves someone who is in contact with police giving another person's name and identifying information because if they used their own, police would find a warrant for them.  It may not seem like the crime of the century at first but you have to consider what happens if someone is arrested and booked into jail using your name.  The person bonds out of jail then doesn't bother to show up for court because it's you that the court has a record of, not them.  When no one shows, the court issues an arrest warrant for you because they have your information.  Next time you're pulled over by police thinking you're just getting a speeding ticket, they lock you up because of that missed court appearance.  Even worse, if they don't bond out of jail, they get brought into court under your name and plead guilty.  They get out of jail then don't pay fines or court costs resulting in a warrant.  In this case you're not only arrested but also left with trying to get a conviction removed from your record.  It's really a nightmare for the person who's identity was stolen.  In this specific case, Lonnie Turner tried using his brother's identity.  Officer Chris Dees of Covington Police suspected him of lying so he ran the brother's name thru jailtracker, hoping to pull up a picture to see if it matched the guy he had stopped..  Unfortunately for Lonnie, not only did he not match his brother's picture but his brother was actually IN the Kenton County Detention Center at that very moment.  So after Officer Dees confronted him with this, Lonnie owned up to his true identity and Officer Dees found he had an outstanding warrant for parole violation.  And for his trouble, Lonnie got an extra year.

RCN: Samantha Soards got three years probation for making a false tax return. What are the details on that case? Who investigates and arrests someone suspected of that?

SANDERS: Everything involving state taxes is investigated by the Kentucky Department of Revenue in Frankfort.  This defendant got the ingenious idea to try to increase her tax refund by forging her W2 to make it look like she earned more money than she did.  She was literally drawing in a 1 in front of every amount on her W2.  Then she called the Dept. of Revenue and wanted to know where her refund was.  The folks in Frankfort were not fooled and even gave her a chance to send them unaltered W2's but the defendant sent in another set of W2's with the 1's added in again.  After the second set of forged documents, the Dept. of Revenue referred her for prosecution.  I guess it didn't occur to the defendant that her employer sends their half of the W2 in to the state as well.  Someone was bound to notice when her employer's set of records didn't match hers.  I can't imagine anyone thinking this boneheaded scam would work but then again, criminals never cease to amaze me.

See the full list and mugshots of those who were convicted of felonies in Kenton County Circuit Court, including the ones referenced above, at the link: This Week in Kenton County Circuit Court

PHOTO: Lonnie Turner/Kenton Co. Jail