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September 16, 2009

Identity thief gets 15 years

Adam Lynn with The News Tribune reports the following:

Convicted identity thief Larry Alan Hayes asked a judge for a second chance.

What Hayes really wanted was an eighth one, and Pierce County Superior Court pro-tem Judge Eric Schmidt wasn’t inclined to give it to him.

Instead, Schmidt handed Hayes an exceptional sentence of 15 years in prison for his role in an identity-theft ring that committed crimes in three states before authorities broke it up in 2007.

“Society needs to be protected from you,” Schmidt told Hayes on Friday before announcing the sentence.

Deputy prosecutor Bertha Fitzer argued that Hayes – who had seven felony convictions on his record before his latest troubles – helped to lead the enterprise, which she described as “vast and sophisticated.”

She asked for a sentence of at least 17 years, 10 months in prison.

A jury in June convicted the 41-year-old man of leading organized crime, six counts of identity theft, six counts of possession of stolen property and two counts of possessing a stolen vehicle, according to court records.

Authorities contended Hayes helped orchestrate the theft of 800 credit card receipts from a storage unit rented by a hair salon chain. He and others then used some of those receipts to make fake credit cards they used to buy or rent merchandise in Washington, Idaho and Oregon.

Prosecutors wrote in charging papers that Hayes had a taste for expensive vehicles, including luxury SUVs and high-end motorcycles. Police found a 2007 Hummer 3, a 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe and parts from a stolen Harley-Davidson motorcycle when they raided Hayes’ Gig Harbor home after his arrest.

Hayes’ attorney, Clayton Longacre, argued for a sentence of nine years, which would have been at the low end of the standard sentencing range. Longacre said his client’s addiction to drugs drove him to commit crimes and that Hayes is a good man when sober.

“This is a man who has a future if he can stay off drugs,” Longacre said.

Hayes’ brother and mother also testified on his behalf.

His brother, James, said the defendant is not a monster and likely could change his life with drug treatment and intense supervision.

“I know with help a person can change,” said James Hayes, who testified he had spent time in prison himself before turning his life around.

Larry Hayes then asked Schmidt for “a second chance.”

“I am no angel,” Hayes said. “I used drugs, and I committed crimes to feed my disease.”

Fitzer countered that Hayes has had his chances and that many people’s credit scores were hurt as a result of his crimes.

“He has had his opportunities to assist the world,” she argued. “He chose a life of crime.”

Schmidt agreed.

“The cause of your behavior may well have been your drug addiction,” the judge said. “But, as the testimony in this case showed, your actions in feeding that habit caused substantial damage."

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