Ex-Assemblyman Going to the Slammer

LOS ANGELES (CN) - A former three-term California assemblyman will plead guilty to three charges of bank fraud: taking $193,661 by falsely claiming to have been a victim of identity theft, federal prosecutors said.
     Carl Washington, 47, of Paramount, represented the 52nd Assembly District, based in Pomona, from 1996 to 2002. Now he works, or worked, as a division chief with Los Angeles County Probation Department.
     He admits in his plea agreement that he defrauded Farmers and Merchants Bank, First City Credit Union, and LA Financial Credit Union of a total of $193,661, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement.
     After he fell into debt, he "defrauded the three banks by concealing several unpaid debts - debts that he simply stopped paying - and his overall lack of creditworthiness," prosecutors said in the statement.
     It continues: "Washington was able to hide his bad debts by filing a series of bogus police reports with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in which he falsely claimed to be the victim of identity theft. After filing the false police reports, Washington sent copies of the reports to the credit reporting agency Experian and demanded that the information relating to the bad debts be removed from his credit report. Once Experian removed this data from his credit report, Washington submitted applications for new credit cards to the victim banks, applications that failed to disclose all of his outstanding debts and the fact that he had negative information reported by other financial institutions removed from his credit report. Once the victim banks issued new credit cards to Washington, he purchased goods and services. But, after making several payments, Washington contacted Experian and, claiming that he was the victim of identity theft, requested that information related to the new credit cards be removed from his credit report. Washington admitted filing five false police reports with LASD.
     "Washington's scheme was exposed when he attempted to refinance two auto loans through LA Financial. When the credit union examined Washington's credit report, it discovered that the auto loans it had previously issued were not showing up on his credit report. LA Financial subsequently learned from Experian that Washington disputed he had earlier sought to refinance his auto loans and that he claimed to be a victim of identity theft. Because LA Financial knew Washington's claims were false, it froze Washington's credit card account and reported him to authorities."
     Washington faces a statutory maximum of 30 years in prison for each count, but the plea agreement calls for a term of 1 year to 18 months. U.S. District Judge James Otero will sentence him sometime this year.