By GARY POPP
A woman believed by prosecutors to be a low-level participant in a fraudulent credit card operation was sentenced to four years probation in Clark County Circuit Court No. 4 Tuesday.
Jordin Elise Ward, 22, of Atlanta, appeared with her mother at the sentencing hearing in Judge Vicki Carmichael’s court.
She was represented by Jeffersonville attorney Niles Driskell.
“Jordin [Ward] is a young lady. She had little to no prior criminal history, and I think those were some mitigating factors in her favor,” Driskell said.
Ward’s original charges included 30 counts of C felony forgery, after she was stopped by Indiana State Police in May 2012 on Interstate 65 for speeding and found in possession of the 30 credit cards, all listed with the name Skylar Jones.
During the traffic stop, she identified herself as Jordin Elise Ward and provided the trooper with a Georgia-issued driver’s license.
The trooper noted the odor of “raw marijuana” coming from inside the vehicle in the probable cause affidavit.
She initially denied having any marijuana in the vehicle, but later gave the trooper a small grinder that contained a small amount of marijuana.
She was also found in possession of a Tennessee driver’s license with her photo and the name Skylar Jones, and more than 100 gift cards with a face value ranging from $15 to $1,500 from various retail businesses, ISP reported.
Ward was booked into the Michael L. Becher Adult Correctional Complex later in the day and remained at the facility for about three weeks until a $25,000 full-cash bond was posted for her release.
Following the plea agreement, Ward was convicted of two counts D felony forgery, each with a two-year prison sentence that were both suspended to probation terms to be served consecutively, for a total of four years probation.
She also pled guilty to possession of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia, both class A misdemeanors. She was sentenced to one year probation for each charge, which will run concurrent with the probation terms of the felony charges.
Clark County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Jeremy Mull was not present during the hearing, but did provide comment later in the day.
“The investigation revealed [Ward] was in possession of some credit cards that did not belong to her. Based on that type of offense, we wanted to ensure she was convicted of a felony, and she was a convicted felon and that she has a lengthy period of court supervision,” Mull said, adding that the time Ward spent in jail after her arrest was a factor while drafting her plea agreement.
He said while it was important to see that Ward was convicted for her crimes, it appears she was involved in an operation that consisted of higher-ranking offenders.
“[Ward’s] explanation was she was given these [credit cards] by one set of people and requested to transport them to another set of people,” he said.
Mull said it is not uncommon for a criminal network to provide a low-level participant with false identification while carrying out this type of crime.
“It can be an indication of a greater degree of involvement, but not necessarily,” Mull said of Ward’s possession of the fraudulent driver’s license matching the name on the 30 credit cards.
Mull said he believes Ward was passing through Clark County at the time of her arrest, and did not have the intent of committing a crime related to the credit cards in the area.
Mull declined to be too specific as to protect the ongoing investigation, and said law enforcement agencies are continuing to investigate the criminal network, with which Ward may have been involved.
“Any time there is an investigation of this sort, the intent is always to work our way upwards and to reach the people most responsible,” Mull said. “It [an investigation] is being followed up with other investigative agencies.”