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SCAMMERS GET JAIL AND MUST PAY RESTITUTION

Territorial Court Judge Ive Arlington Swan Wednesday sentenced two Chicago residents to jail terms and ordered them to pay restitution for some of the goods and services they procured while using fraudulent credit cards.
Diane Gordon and Norris French, both 25, entered guilty pleas during a change-of-plea hearing. Gordon confessed that she intended to defraud several businesses when she bought merchandise from stores including, Gems and Jewelers, Royal Caribbean and Modern Music. Prosecutors contend that Gordon used a counterfeit Visa credit card to conduct the transactions between December 29, 1999 and January 3, 2000.
In a plea bargain agreement hammered out with prosecutors on Tuesday, Gordon plead guilty and faces 16 months in jail and has to pay almost $2,000 in restitution to the Marriott Frenchman's Reef resort. Had the case gone to trial a conviction could have resulted in Gordon spending three years in jail and paying restitution and fines. Gordon's defense attorney Leonard Francis Jr. angered prosecutor Assistant Attorney General Douglas Sprotte when he appealed to the court to lessen the jail term and allow the defendant to serve the remaining jail time in an Illinois prison.
Sprotte fired back telling Swan, "This is not what we agreed to. The government is prepared to withdraw the plea bargain and proceed to trial on Monday. We see this as Mr. Francis acting in bad faith." Swan attempted to calm Sprotte saying, "There is nothing to say that the defense cannot appeal to my Christian upbringing during this Lenten Season."
The judge added, "Maybe he wanted to see if I was napping on the job."
Swan ignored the plea for leniency and sentenced Gordon to the 16-month jail term spelled out in the plea bargain agreement, and as provided by law, she received three months credit for time served in jail since her Jan. 3 arrest at the Cyril E. King Airport.
French was sentenced to 6 months in jail after also pleading guilty to charges that he defrauded several businesses through the use of bogus credit cards.
Like Gordon, French faced a maximum 3-year jail term had he been convicted during a jury trial.
French told Swan he was a ninth-grade dropout.
When he was nabbed with Gordan at the King Airport, law enforcement agents found four bogus credit cards in his name. Altogether, French and Gordon possessed 20 fraudulent credit cards. They included VISA Bank One cards, American Express Corporate Gold charge cards, First Union MasterCard,
GM MasterCard, Capitol One VISA and LaSalle Master Money Cards. All were created by the two using blank plastic cards on which they embossed bank logos, their names and accounts numbers stolen from unsuspecting credit card customers.
Assistant Attorney General Douglas Sprotte, who heads the Justice Department's White Collar Crime Unit, told the court hearing that had the case gone to trial, the government would have proven that on December 29, 1999, both defendants engaged in a shopping spree on St. Thomas and when they attempted to use a phoney credit card to buy a $14,000 Rolex watch, they were detected. An alert retail store manager quickly called Justice Department officials to notify them of the scam. French and Gordon were arrested as they attempted
to leave on a mainland-bound flight. They have been in custody since their arrest.
Gordon did not address the court after sentencing but French said he was happy this was over and "this island will never ever see me again." But Swan reminded him that as a U.S. citizen he is always welcomed to the Virgin Islands. But should "you break the law, you will be hit hard, just ask your fellow inmates about coming to my courtroom."
Swan said there exists the possibility that French will have to pay restitution to the Royal Caribbean store for a gold bracelet he bought with one of the suspect credit cards. After purchasing the bracelet French had it rhodium-dipped to change its appearance from yellow to white gold.
Swan said if the bracelet is not sellable in its altered form, French would have to pay the store its sale value.
Both French and Gordon made voluntary $300 contributions to the St. Thomas- St. John Chapter of the American Red Cross. Swan explained that he has often times encouraged defendants to make voluntary contributions to the St. Thomas-St. John Chapter of the ARC to assist in the efforts of the service organization.
"I can vividly remember the days after Hurricane Marilyn, when
the Red Cross was out there helping with water distribution despite their limited funds."
Swan said he wanted to emphasize that these are strictly voluntary contributions.
Francis and French's defense attorney Stephen Brusch had no comment as they left the courtroom Wednesday. Prosecutor Sprotte also declined to comment on the outcome of the case.

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Territorial Court Judge Ive Arlington Swan Wednesday sentenced two Chicago residents to jail terms and ordered them to pay restitution for some of the goods and services they procured while using fraudulent credit cards.
Diane Gordon and Norris French, both 25, entered guilty pleas during a change-of-plea hearing. Gordon confessed that she intended to defraud several businesses when she bought merchandise from stores including, Gems and Jewelers, Royal Caribbean and Modern Music. Prosecutors contend that Gordon used a counterfeit Visa credit card to conduct the transactions between December 29, 1999 and January 3, 2000.
In a plea bargain agreement hammered out with prosecutors on Tuesday, Gordon plead guilty and faces 16 months in jail and has to pay almost $2,000 in restitution to the Marriott Frenchman's Reef resort. Had the case gone to trial a conviction could have resulted in Gordon spending three years in jail and paying restitution and fines. Gordon's defense attorney Leonard Francis Jr. angered prosecutor Assistant Attorney General Douglas Sprotte when he appealed to the court to lessen the jail term and allow the defendant to serve the remaining jail time in an Illinois prison.
Sprotte fired back telling Swan, "This is not what we agreed to. The government is prepared to withdraw the plea bargain and proceed to trial on Monday. We see this as Mr. Francis acting in bad faith." Swan attempted to calm Sprotte saying, "There is nothing to say that the defense cannot appeal to my Christian upbringing during this Lenten Season."
The judge added, "Maybe he wanted to see if I was napping on the job."
Swan ignored the plea for leniency and sentenced Gordon to the 16-month jail term spelled out in the plea bargain agreement, and as provided by law, she received three months credit for time served in jail since her Jan. 3 arrest at the Cyril E. King Airport.
French was sentenced to 6 months in jail after also pleading guilty to charges that he defrauded several businesses through the use of bogus credit cards.
Like Gordon, French faced a maximum 3-year jail term had he been convicted during a jury trial.
French told Swan he was a ninth-grade dropout.
When he was nabbed with Gordan at the King Airport, law enforcement agents found four bogus credit cards in his name. Altogether, French and Gordon possessed 20 fraudulent credit cards. They included VISA Bank One cards, American Express Corporate Gold charge cards, First Union MasterCard,
GM MasterCard, Capitol One VISA and LaSalle Master Money Cards. All were created by the two using blank plastic cards on which they embossed bank logos, their names and accounts numbers stolen from unsuspecting credit card customers.
Assistant Attorney General Douglas Sprotte, who heads the Justice Department's White Collar Crime Unit, told the court hearing that had the case gone to trial, the government would have proven that on December 29, 1999, both defendants engaged in a shopping spree on St. Thomas and when they attempted to use a phoney credit card to buy a $14,000 Rolex watch, they were detected. An alert retail store manager quickly called Justice Department officials to notify them of the scam. French and Gordon were arrested as they attempted
to leave on a mainland-bound flight. They have been in custody since their arrest.
Gordon did not address the court after sentencing but French said he was happy this was over and "this island will never ever see me again." But Swan reminded him that as a U.S. citizen he is always welcomed to the Virgin Islands. But should "you break the law, you will be hit hard, just ask your fellow inmates about coming to my courtroom."
Swan said there exists the possibility that French will have to pay restitution to the Royal Caribbean store for a gold bracelet he bought with one of the suspect credit cards. After purchasing the bracelet French had it rhodium-dipped to change its appearance from yellow to white gold.
Swan said if the bracelet is not sellable in its altered form, French would have to pay the store its sale value.
Both French and Gordon made voluntary $300 contributions to the St. Thomas- St. John Chapter of the American Red Cross. Swan explained that he has often times encouraged defendants to make voluntary contributions to the St. Thomas-St. John Chapter of the ARC to assist in the efforts of the service organization.
"I can vividly remember the days after Hurricane Marilyn, when
the Red Cross was out there helping with water distribution despite their limited funds."
Swan said he wanted to emphasize that these are strictly voluntary contributions.
Francis and French's defense attorney Stephen Brusch had no comment as they left the courtroom Wednesday. Prosecutor Sprotte also declined to comment on the outcome of the case.