By GARY POPP
The five New York residents arrested last week and believed to have perpetuated a credit-card fraud scheme amounting to nearly $30,000 across multiple states will face federal charges, said Clarksville Police Department Chief Mark Palmer.
Palmer said soon after the arrests were made, the U.S. Secret Service and CPD began communicating. All state charges have been dropped, Palmer said, and the federal agency will take the lead on the case.
“They are picking it up from us,” Palmer said of the case, which involves crimes allegedly committed in several states, including Indiana and Kentucky.
Clarksville police found the group in possession of nearly 350 fraudulent credit cards after an employee of Sam’s Club on Veterans Parkway alerted authorities that one of the suspects had attempted to use a fraudulent card at the business. The arrests were made in the parking lot of a nearby Red Lobster after a CPD patrolmen located the suspects’ vehicle along Green Tree Boulevard. Palmer said it appears the case is going to develop into much more than the preliminary charges issued by CPD.
“Those we arrested are probably just one part of a larger group,” he said. “It’s likely there is someone behind the curtain pulling the strings.”
While the Secret Service will head the investigation, Palmer said CPD investigators will continue to be a crucial element as the case unfolds.
“We will still play a vital role, especially on the Indiana side of it,” he said, and added that the department’s evidence technicians are continuing to process incoming information related to the case.
He said by bringing the suspects up on federal charges, prosecutors can seek more severe penalties, and that it also makes logistical sense.
“It will be easier to prosecute on the federal level, instead of going from state to state to prosecute,” Palmer said.
Those expected to be federally charged are Trevor A. Hinds, 44; Amanda G. Adam, 21; Tycia S. Peterson, 27; Paul N. Roberson, 35; and Blandine S. Joseph, 37. Their preliminary charges included felonies for forgery and fraud.
Palmer has previously stated that the group is believed to have used the fraudulent cards to purchase nearly $30,000 of goods over four days at a variety of business in Louisville.
He said the majority of the transactions were for purchases of cigarettes that were shipped to New York.
Palmer also said investigation has revealed the quintet made a single purchase of $4,500 worth of cigarettes at a Louisville Walmart.
No merchandise was found in the vehicle the group had rented in New York before arriving in Louisville area, but about 350 credit cards were found in the car and on the suspects.