Justin Sutton, of Newburgh, had used the personal identifying information of two victims to make ATM withdrawals and unauthorized purchases, Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore said.
He was charged with:
- two counts of first-degree identity theft, felonies
- one count of third-degree grand larceny, a felony
- one count of first-degree scheme to defraud, a felony
He is accused of unlawful use and attempted use of stolen personal information throughout Westchester County, including J.P. Morgan Chase Bank branches in Peekskill and Yorktown; a Mahopac National Bank branch in Yonkers; a “True Religion Brand Jeans” store in White Plains; a Nieman Marcus store in White Plains; “The Loop” store in Yonkers; and a Wal-Mart store in White Plains.
Sutton had stolen approximately $9,000, DiFiore said.
The man's scheme first came to light to authorities when Nieman Marcus store employees in White Plains realized Sutton was attempting to use a stolen identity to purchase items. Further investigation by the Westchester County Police Department, the Bedford Police Department, and the Westchester County District Attorney's Office ultimately uncovered the full extent of the his scheme.
He was arrested by the Westchester County Police.
Following his arrest, the man made a number of statements in various local courts throughout Westchester County, DiFiore said in a statement. In those statements, Sutton claimed "common law jurisdiction," cited to the "law of contracts," and attempted to invoke a "right not to proceed with your courts."
"For decades, across the United States, similar statements have been made by individuals attempting to use the false ideology of the so-called 'Sovereign Citizen Movement' as a calculated strategy to advance their own self interests," DiFiore said in a statement.
The "Sovereign Citizen Movement" is described as a loose collection of individuals who claim, among other things, that they are not subject to federal, state, and local laws. Such claims have been repeatedly rejected by federal and state courts throughout the country.
"As a government and society we take pride in and encourage people to pursue and follow whatever beliefs they choose," DiFiore said. "However, when individuals, such as this defendant, create an alternative reality for the purpose their own self interest, as in this case to scheme and defraud, they will be vigorously prosecuted."
Sutton was remanded.
His next court date is Jan. 8, 2014. He will be continuing to represent himself.
Suttin faces a maximum sentence of seven years in state prison.
Assistant District Attorney Brian Fitzgerald of the Economic Crime Bureau is prosecuting the case.