Friday, August 03, 2012

Minneapolis Man Sentenced to 17 Years in Federal Prison for Conspiring to Commit Bank Fraud and Identity Theft

MINNEAPOLIS – Earlier today in federal court, a 39-year-old Minneapolis man was sentenced to 204 months in federal prison for using stolen credit cards, including one belonging to a local FBI agent, to obtain cash and make purchases. United States District Court Judge Patrick J. Schiltz sentenced Milton Carlton Rucker, Jr., on one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, one count of being a felon in possession, and one count of aggravated identity theft. Rucker was charged in a superseding indictment on October 17, 2011, and was convicted on February 24, 2012, following a jury trial.

Evidence presented at trial proved that Rucker conspired to break into cars to steal credit cards and the personal identification of others for the purpose of fraudulently obtaining money from financial institutions and merchandise from retailers. On July 22, 2011, at approximately 4:40 p.m., Rucker broke into a vehicle owned by a FBI agent and stole a duffel bag that contained the agent's duty weapon and badge as well as his credentials, personal credit cards, a watch, and other items of value. Within an hour, one of the stolen credit cards was used at a gas station and was attempted to be used at a local Target store.

Aided by video surveillance from both businesses, authorities tracked down the vehicle tied to the crime. It was located in the driveway of a Minneapolis residence. Inside the residence, officers found and arrested Rucker and Tania Marie Thompson, also known as Tania Marie Carson. During the subsequent execution of a search warrant on the vehicle and at the residence, police discovered the FBI agent's watch and credit cards, along with other items. They also found clothing that matched the clothing worn by the crime suspect. Authorities later recovered the agent's credentials and gun.
Because he is a felon, Rucker is prohibited under federal law from possessing firearms at any time. However, on July 22, 2011, he possessed the gun he stole from the FBI agent's car. That gun was a .40-caliber pistol.
Rucker's prior convictions include theft from a person in 1991, aggravated robbery in 1992, receiving stolen property in 2008, and financial transaction card fraud, also in 2008. Those convictions occurred in Hennepin County. In addition, he was convicted of first-degree sale of drugs in 2000 in Ramsey County, and he was charged and convicted federally, in the District of Minnesota, in 1993, for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Since at least three of those felony convictions were for violent crimes or serious drug offenses, Rucker was subject to the federal armed career criminal statute in the current case. That statute mandates a minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison. Since the federal criminal justice system does not have parole, Rucker will serve virtually his entire sentence behind bars.

On January 26, 2012, Rucker's co-defendant, Tania Marie Thompson, age 35, of Minneapolis, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of aggravated identity theft in connection to this crime. In her plea agreement, Thompson admitted that on July 22, 2011, she and Rucker broke into the FBI agent's Ford Explorer and stole items of value as well as personal identification. Thompson also admitted that the July 22 theft was part of a pattern of eight or more thefts that she and Rucker committed involving parked vehicles at Lake Calhoun and area fitness centers.

For her crime, Thompson faces a potential maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison for conspiracy and a mandatory minimum penalty of two years for aggravated identity theft. She is scheduled to be sentenced on August 23, 2012.

This case is the result of an investigation by the FBI; the Brooklyn Park Police Department; the Bloomington Police Department; the U.S. ATF; and the Minneapolis Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys LeeAnn K. Bell and Laura M. Provinzino.

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