Sept. 4, 2013
The three people involved in a fake ID ring in Charlottesville went in front of a judge to plead guilty Wednesday morning.
Alan McNeil Jones, Kelly McPhee and Mark Bernardo all stood up in front of a judge in federal court to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit identification document fraud, and other count for aggravated identity theft.
This all started back in 2010 when jones had significant debt that led to the foreclosure of his home in Alabama.
To escape debt he began creating fake ID's for himself under several names.
"He was able to do some genealogical research of people who had died in one state and had been born in another,” says U.S. Attorney Timothy Heaphy. “That enabled him to get birth certificates in those names which he used to obtain ID’s.”
He became so good at making them that he began selling them to other people and even reached out to Bangladesh and China for resources and holographic imaging.
Heaphy explained that Jones was the mastermind behind this operation and later brought in McPhee and Bernardo.
"And it started with her packaging the ID's that he made and sending them to customers,” says Heaphy. “Mr. Bernardo eventually moved to Charlottesville and began assisting in the business; he did data entry and cropped photographs."
Back in May of this year, all three were arrested and were held in jail without bond.
U.S. Attorney Heaphy says that they all lived in a house off of Rugby Rd. in Charlottesville and had all of their equipment to make the ID’s on the second floor of the house.
"There was a veritable assembly line of sophisticated computer equipment of the plastic card stocks and the laminate and cash in a safe and stuffed in various places around the house," says Heaphy.
They sold high quality fake ids to people in 17 states. Officials are concerned that this could be a national security crisis since they sold 25,000 ID’s around the nation.
"There intention we believe was to sell to college students, but there is no way of knowing exactly where those identifications went," says Heaphy.
Officials seized $2 million dollars throughout the investigation, Jones, McPhee and Bernardo brought in $3 million throughout the extent of their fake ID operation.
As they were all leaving the courtroom Kelly McPhee's family waved to her and she began to cry. Bernardo and Jones left the courtroom quietly with no emotion.
They all face 17 years in prison. All three waved their right to an appeal, and will be sentenced on December 16th.