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U.S. v. WAGNER

April 29, 2004.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, -against- JAMES WAGNER, Defendant


The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBERT SWEET, Senior District Judge

SENTENCING OPINION

On September 26, 2003, James Wagner ("Wagner") pleaded guilty to one count of Credit Card Fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1029(a)(5), a class C felony.

The Offense Conduct

  This statement of facts draws on the Presentence Investigation Report prepared by the U.S. Probation Office.

  On January 21, 2003, Wagner entered Saks Fifth Avenue at the Short Hills Mall in Short Hills, New Jersey and purchased two Cartier watches with a total value of $6,950 using a Chase Bank card in the name of another person ("the Cardholder"). In making the purchase, Wagner signed a charge card form in the name of the Cardholder. During the course of processing the transaction, the Saks Fifth Avenue store clerk became suspicious and contacted a store investigator. The investigator called the bank card issuer and spoke with a bank representative. The bank representative reported to the investigator that he had called the Cardholder at home and spoken to him. The Cardholder stated that he had not been at the Short Hills Mall at the time and had not authorized anyone else to use his card.

  Following the call to Chase Bank, the investigator contacted the Millburn, New Jersey Police Department; a detective and another member of the Millburn Police Department responded to the call. The detective then called the victim from a Saks Fifth Avenue security office in the store to confirm that he was not at the Short Hills Mall and had not authorized anyone else to use his card.

  Wagner was then approached by a Saks Fifth Avenue store investigator who identified himself as such. Wagner immediately walked away from the investigator and then began running toward the parking garage. While running, Wagner dropped the two watches he had purchased along with the receipts.

  The detective and his partner approached Wagner in the parking garage and arrested him and read him his Miranda warning. Wagner then stated: "He told me it was good." The case was then referred to United States Postal Inspectors, who reviewed the details of the arrest and subsequently contacted a Chase Bank fraud investigator who informed the postal inspectors that the Cardholder never received the bank card used by Wagner. The fraud investigator then provided a report of all purchases made with the bank card. These purchases, totaling approximately $13,000, were made in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere from January 18, 2003 through January 21, 2003.

  Wagner was arrested on April 23, 2003 in the Southern District of New York. After his arrest, the government determined that Wagner was not responsible for all the fraudulent charges to the credit card but that he is responsible for $7,231.06 in actual loss.

 Victim Impact

  The intended victim of the instant offense is J.P. Morgan Chase, formerly known as Chase Bank. It has suffered an actual loss of $7,231.06.

 Offender Characteristics

  Wagner was reportedly born in 1948 in Peekskill, New York. He was raised in a middle-class household in Westchester County. Wagner reports that he graduated from the State University of New York at Albany in 1971 with a bachelor's degree in biology. Wagner currently resides in a one-bedroom apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

  In 1994, Wagner developed Lyme disease through a tick bite. In 2000, he was bitten again by a tick and his condition worsened. The disease has manifested itself with neurological complications, a heart condition and a diminished immune system. As a result, Wagner requires a daily regimen of medication. Wagner also reports that he has been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue ...


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