A Franklin County grand jury has returned a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act indictment against two men accused of such crimes as identity fraud, theft and breaking and entering in numerous central Ohio communities, according to a Feb. 1 news release from county prosecutor Ron O’Brien’s office.
Named in the 33-count indictment were Jonathan Charles Knapp, 33, and Justin Lee Goins, 26. Also named were Frank M. Abrams II, 47; and Gary Ronald Smith Jr. 39, who were charged with one count each of fraud and theft, according to the release. No residence was listed for any of them.
RICO is a federal anti-racketeering and anti-corruption law.
The indictment includes charges of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, identity fraud, identity fraud against a person in a protected class, breaking and entering, theft and grand theft of a motor vehicle, the release said.
“A man and three of his associates committed a variety of criminal activities, including identity fraud, theft, stealing vehicles and trailers and breaking and entering into storage units throughout our county, leaving behind dozens of victims,” O’Brien said in the release. “Most of the victims are residents of Franklin County.”
The indictment alleges that between Nov. 2, 2015, and July 6, 2016, Knapp and Goins committed identity fraud by obtaining credit cards and lines of credit issued in the names of other individuals the criminal enterprise then used to commit a variety of other crimes, the release said.
They victimized Simply Self-Storage and Westerville Mini Storage by renting storage units and, once inside the complex, breaking into other units, stealing the contents inside and reselling the items, the release said.
In one storage unit, they accessed thousands of former patient files belonging to a local dentist office, the release said. Another storage unit contained hundreds of client files belonging to a company that prepared taxes and restored credit for customers.
The men used the information in those files to fraudulently obtain credit cards and lines of credit, the release said. The men made dozens of purchases with those credit cards and lines of credit from local retailers and service companies.
The indictment also alleges that a vehicle was stolen from a local Ford dealership by one of the defendants who used a fraudulently obtained driver’s license in another person’s name.
O’Brien commended the police departments in Blendon Township, Columbus, Genoa Township, Gahanna, Grandview Heights, Grove City, Westerville, Whitehall and Worthington, as well as the Union County Sheriff’s Office, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, for their help in the case.