HAMMOND – A group of people rummaged through the trash receptacles outside of a local loan business in order to retrieve receipts and steal customers’ identities and credit card information that was then used to purchase items illegally, according to the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office.
A sheriff’s office news release said the enterprise had been going on for about a year during which time the suspects victimized 45 people.
The investigation began in May of 2018 and led them to 41-year-old Salvador Lauricella and his wife Miranda. It was discovered that they had business partners and that all of the suspects had been busily going through trash cans to gather receipts and other customer information.
The sheriff’s office said that a warrant was served on a residence in Ponchatoula where hundreds of financial documents were found inside of a black travel case.
During the investigation that netted six suspects, officers also identified a 28-year-old man who worked as a cashier at a nearby convenience store. The sheriff’s office alleges that Evan McPherson confessed to manually punching in credit card numbers that were brought to them by the suspects in order for them to make fraudulent purchases at the store.
The sheriff’s office said that during the course of the investigation, all individuals confessed to entering a criminal conspiracy to commit identity theft and access device fraud amounting to an unknown dollar amount stolen. They also identified Wenzel Fontenot was the mastermind behind the operation.
As a result of the investigation, the Office of Attorney General OFI Division was contacted regarding the improper shredding of financial documents at the local loan company.
Arrested are the following:
Arrested 6/8/2018 – Salvador Lauricella.
Charges – Identity Theft, Conspiracy to commit access device fraud, and Access Device Fraud.
Arrested 7/2/2018 – Leah Fontenot.
Charges – Introduction of contraband-penal institute, Possession of legend drugs, Identity Theft, and Conspiracy to commit access device fraud.
Arrested 7/3/2018 – Austin Hill.
Charges – Introduction of contraband-penal institute, Possession of drug paraphernalia, Conspiracy to commit access device fraud, Identity Theft, Attempted escape, and Resisting an officer.
Arrested 5/15/2018 – Wenzel Fontenot.
Charges – FTA hold without bond Division A, FTA Division A, Conspiracy to commit access device fraud, and Identity Theft.
Arrested 6/28/2018 – Briana Fitzgerald
Charges – Access Device Fraud, Conspiracy to commit Access Device Fraud, Identity Theft.
Arrested 7/23/2018 – Evan Mcpherson
Charges – Conspiracy to commit access device fraud and Identity Theft.
The following individuals are wanted for charges related to the case:
37-year-old Miranda Lauricella of Ponchatoula, LA. and 30-year-old Bridgette Bryan of Holden, LA.