ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - An Albuquerque woman who with a partner spread more than $140,000 in bogus paychecks around the Southwest pleaded guilty to identity theft in federal court Thursday.
Shelly Nichols, 42, admitted fabricating paychecks and IDs used to cash them at Walmarts in New Mexico and four other states, according to a statement released by the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Under a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, Nichols pleaded guilty to three charges and will be sentenced to two years and one month in prison followed by five years of supervised probation. Nichols now
Nichols' partner in crime, Donna Gabaldón, 41, pleaded guilty to two ID-theft charges and is serving two years in federal prison.
"Shelly Nichols was a top five Property Crime Offender in the city of Albuquerque and State of New Mexico when she was arrested in this case," said Resident Agent in Charge Richard Ferretti of the U.S. Secret Service office in Albuquerque. "Identity theft related investigations are a top priority of the U.S. Secret Service in Albuquerque, and we work closely with our partners in the Albuquerque Financial Crimes Task Force to aggressively investigate, arrest, and prosecute those committing these crimes."
Conditions of the plea agreement require Nichols to forfeit a 2009 Hummer and her and Gabaldón to make $141,233 in restitution.
According to prosecutors Nichols created the counterfeit checks with names then used to make fake driver's licenses containing her and Gabaldón's photos. The driver's licenses had valid Social Security numbers assigned to innocent third parties.
Beyond New Mexico the pair passed the bogus checks in Arizona, Utah, Colorado and Texas from October 2009 through June 2010, according to prosecutors who said they also made purchases with phony personal checks Nichols printed.
A sentencing date for Nichols has not yet been set.
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