Crime

Detroit man sent to prison in credit card scam

Brandt Stewart, 29, of Southfield, Mich., was sentenced in Boise Tuesday to 32 months in prison for his role as part of a traveling group that bilked Southern Idaho stores out of more than $46,000 in gift cards and merchandise.

Stewart pleaded guilty in January to aggravated identity theft and credit card fraud.

Co-defendant Myron G. Pardon, 26, was sentenced in February to 18 months in prison. A third man, Matthew Lane, also pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced at the federal courthouse in Boise May 19.

When the three men were arrested last summer, prosecutors described the trio as "human parasites." Pardon and Stewart flew to Salt Lake City and drove to Idaho in rental cars in December 2013 and again in February 2014. They were joined in the February crime spree by Lane.

The men went from store to store buying gift cards that could then be sold or used in payment for other items.

At least 15 stores were victimized, including a North Face store in Boise; Home Depot stores in Boise, Meridian, Nampa and Twin Falls; Fred Meyer stores in Boise, Garden City and Nampa; and Rite Aid stores in Boise.

The defendants entered store with credit cards embossed with the account number from a legitimate card owner but listing a false name. They used the cards to buy gift cards in denominations between $100 and $500, according to court records. The amount spent during a given transaction generally ranged from about $400 to more than $2,000.

Pardon, an unemployed golf caddy, used stolen credit card information to buy five $500 MasterCard gift cards from the Franklin Road Fred Meyer on Feb 3. Four hours earlier, another $2,000 worth of gift cards were purchased at the same store. In many instances, the same store was victimized more than once.

The three men are accused of carrying out the same scheme in Michigan, where The Kroger Co., the parent of Fred Meyer, identified $441,000 in losses attributed to the three men and others.

Before he was arrested, Pardon had traveled to Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, Florida, Pennsylvania and New York, according to an examination of his cell phone. No federal charges have been filed against Pardon or the other two men in those states, according to a check of a nationwide federal court database.

The case involved a joint investigation by the Boise Police Department and the United States Secret Service.

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