Probation worker charged with bank fraud

DOWNEY - Carl Edward Washington, a former democratic California State Assemblyman for California's 52nd district, was arrested Monday by FBI agents on charges that he defrauded Farmers and Merchants Bank, First City Credit Union, and LA Financial Credit Union out of thousands of dollars by falsely claiming to be the victim of identity theft. Washington, 47, is currently employed by the Los Angeles County Probation Department in Downey and resides in Los Angeles.

He was charged with three counts of bank fraud and three counts of making a false statement to a federally insured financial institution.

The indictment alleges that Washington would obtain credit cards and loans from financial institutions that he used to purchase several thousand dollars worth of goods and services.

After using the credit cards to make these purchases, Washington would file a police report with the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department falsely claiming to be the victim of identity theft and report that the credit cards and loans had been opened by someone else.

Washington would provide a copy of the bogus police report to Experian, one of the three major credit reporting agencies, and have them remove the credit cards and loans, many of which had substantial unpaid balances and past due amounts, from his credit report, authorities alleged.

Once Experian removed the items from Washington's credit report, he would send out applications for new credit cards without disclosing to the banks his outstanding debts or the fact that he had information relating to those debts removed from his credit report.

If the new credit cards applications were approved by the banks, Washington would allegedly run up several thousand dollars more worth of debt and file another police report claiming that the new credit cards were the result of identity theft.

The indictment alleges that Washington did make several payments towards the credit cards before claiming they were the result of identity, including payments from the same bank account into which Washington was having salary from the Los Angeles County Probation Department directly deposited. The Los Angeles County Probation Department assisted during the arrest of Washington.

Each of the six counts in the indictment carries a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison. Washington was arraigned on all of the charges Monday in United States District Court. The case against Washington was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Public Corruption Squad.

Authorities also announced that more than 40 employees from the Los Angeles County Probation Department have been arrested since Jan. 1. The arrests "coincide with a year-long internal review of staff misconduct and serve to help raise the Probation Department's employment standards and practices."

********** Published: September 20, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 23