Ken Kalthoff, NBCDFW.com
A confessed identity thief accused of stealing personal files on 16,000 people received hard prison time today.
A California man who stole thousands of identities, including those of U.S. service members, was sentenced Thursday in Dallas to more than six years in federal prison.
Rene Quimby, 42, pleaded guilty in May to one count of fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft in the case, which involved the Dallas-based Army and Air Force Exchange Service.
Prosecutors said Quimby, of Redlands, Calif., had more than 16,000 identities on his computer. He used various file-sharing programs to download files with personal information from the computers of his victims.
"One of the things he downloaded was a roster from a particular military base that had very detailed information about where people were stationed, their names, their date of rank, date of birth," U.S. Attorney Frank Gatto said.
Many of the victims are active-duty and reserve service members.
"They were vulnerable because, had they been overseas, they may not lave know about it until they got back, so their families would have to deal with it as well as the fact that they were away overseas," Gatto said.
Quimby used the personal information of about 650 people to purchase more than $200,000 worth of merchandise from AAFES website and then sell it, prosecutors said.
He had the merchandise, including computers, digital cameras, iPods, washers and dryers, sent to various addresses in southern California near his home.
Quimby told the judge he stole to support a methamphetamine habit.
"I want to thank the agents who arrested me because I think they saved my life," he said.
His defense attorney asked for a reduced sentence because Quimby cooperated with federal agents, has health problems and has family in California.
But U.S. District Judge Jane J. Boyle said she imposed the maximum prison sentence to send a message about victimizing soldiers.
"The nature of the offense is the worst ID theft I can recall," she said. "It's precisely what is really, really wearing citizens down."
Boyle sentenced Quimby to 75 months in prison and ordered him to pay $210,119 in restitution to the AAFES when he is released. He must also submit to random inspections of any computer he uses in the future.
Gatto said the government has tightened security procedures to eliminate opportunities Quimby discovered.
The AAFES operates more than 6,000 stores on military installations around the world and a website. It offers discounted merchandise to veterans and active-duty military members and their families.
"Pretty much any product you might want is out there, and we have ways to deliver it to your home," said AAFES spokesman U.S. Army Lt. Col. Thomas Shrader. "It’s a benefit to service members and their families, and it’s really convenient when a soldier is deployed or an airman is deployed in Afghanistan. His spouse needs something, his children need something -- it’s right there on post, [and] they can deliver it to their door."
The AAFES also provides recreation and morale building programs with support from revenue raised from the sale of merchandise, Shrader said.