Sunday, August 3, 2003

Man charged with leading identity theft ring

The Associated Press

COLUMBUS - A man accused of controlling an identity-theft ring spanning several states was convicted of running a similar operation about two decades ago and has been in prison several times since then, authorities said.

Gregory D. Vonhoupe, 52, of the Columbus suburb of Dublin, has been indicted on 174 counts including forgery, theft, identity fraud, receiving stolen property and possessing criminal tools. He was being held in the Greene County jail.

Members of the ring obtained as much as $1 million in cash and goods in at least nine states and Washington, D.C., using stolen checking account and credit-card numbers, police said.

Police said the ring had at least 12 other members, including Vonhoupe's wife, Sabrina James Vonhoupe. She was indicted on 22 counts, and a warrant is out for her arrest.

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien said 195 of the ring's 365 victims are either individuals or businesses from the county.

Vonhoupe was convicted in 1984 on charges of leading an identity-theft ring that stole $500,000 in money and goods over three years. He was sentenced to three to 10 years in prison for forgery, passing bad checks, receiving stolen property and carrying a concealed weapon.

Although he was released in 1986, a parole violation sent him back to prison in 1988 - the first of three times that happened. The sentence ended in August 1999, and he was not under any parole supervision in recent years, authorities said.

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