Leader of gas pump skimming scheme convicted

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The ringleader of a gas pump skimming and identity theft scheme that spanned six states, including Michigan, has been found guilty of all charges.

Antonio DeJesus Perez-Martinez of Austin, Texas is expected to be ordered to spend up to 42 years in prison when he is sentenced on May 15, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

After a four-day trial, a jury on Monday convicted Perez-Martinez, 44, of credit account fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Authorities say he organized the major fraud operation to steal people’s financial information by putting devices called ‘skimmers’ in pumps at local gas stations to steal customers’ credit and debit card information.

He is the last of eight people charged in the case, though federal authorities say it at times involved more than 12.

Several other suspects — 29-year-old Raul Gonzalez Falcon, 34-year-old Yunier Carballo-Pupo, 38-year-old Manuel Perez-Cabrera, and 30-year-old Michel Velazquez-Gregori — all pleaded guilty and were sentenced to 21 months in prison. Pedro Sanchez-Pupo, 32, was sentenced to 37 months in prison. Juan Estrada-Galvez, who played a minor role in the scheme, pleaded to a misdemeanor count out of Kent County.

Authorities say Perez-Martinez is a Cuban national with a U.S. green card, and all of the suspects are also Cuba natives who came to the country legally in 2014.

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