Goukasian Found Guilty of Identity Theft

Man found guilty of skimming tens of thousands of credit cards

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    NEWSLETTERS

    After deliberating for three hours, a jury has found Aleksandr Goukasian guilty of identity theft. (Published Friday, Jun 22, 2012)

    After deliberating for three hours, a jury has found Aleksandr Goukasian guilty on all charges.

    Goukasian, a 52-year-old native of Armenia, was accused of skimming tens of thousands of debit and credit cards at North Texas gas stations and then using that data to clone cards before using them at ATM machines.

    In closing arguments Friday, his defense attorney Abe Factor said Goukasian was a "mule" who did what others told him to do. Factor said the only thing Goukasian was guilty of was using other people's cards without permission. Factor had also said Goukasian wasn't working with other people.

    Assistant District Attorney Lori Burks jumped on that in her closing argument, saying, "If the defendant is a mule, who is he a mule for?"

    "If you have nothing to do with skimmers and gas pumps, why do you have pictures of gas pumps on your camera?" she said.

    After the guilty verdict, Burks told NBC 5 that Goukasian was smarter than his defense attorney made him out to be.

    "He was absolutely involved in every aspect of this case," she said. "He is very deceptive. He is one of those folks that is able to make you think he's your friend but, at the same time, is devious."

    Goukasian and his attorney did not speak to the media after the verdict.

    He was charged with one count of unlawful use of electronic communications; four counts of unlawful possession of an electronic intercept device; one count of engaging in organized criminal activity; and one count of fraudulently possessing or using identifying information.

    Goukasian had a universal key that allowed him to open a common type of gas pump and install the devices when stores were closed or clerks weren't watching, police said. The gadgets, encased in Tupperware and including a wireless transmitter, recorded card numbers and even personal identification numbers. Devices attributed to Goukasian were found in Mojave, Calif.; Las Vegas; Dallas; Fort Worth and Houston.

    His trial was delayed earlier this week after Goukasian took too many sleeping pills and required hospitalization. The trial was to resume Monday morning, but it was decided Thursday night that it would continue Friday morning instead.

    During Friday's hearing, the defense rested less than a half hour after the trial continued when Goukasian chose not to testify.

    In a deal last year with federal prosecutors, he pleaded guilty to a charge of using an unauthorized access device.

    Sentencing will begin at a later date. Goukasian faces up to 99 years in prison.

    Two others, Arkadi Minassian and Arin Mehrabian are awaiting trail in Houston in connection with the skimmers. Two other men remain at large.

    NBC 5's Mark Schnyder, Scott Gordon, Lindsay Wilcox, Ben Russell and Amanda Guerra contributed to this report.