Jacksonville, Florida – Charles Cornelius Smith (36, Jacksonville) has pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Smith faces up to 30 years in federal prison on the conspiracy charge, and a 2-year mandatory minimum term of imprisonment on the aggravated identity theft charge. Smith made his initial appearance in federal court on August 27, 2020 and was detained. Smith’s co-defendant, Zipporan Carmel Peters, is scheduled for trial on March 1, 2021.
According to court documents, Smith obtained the personal identification information to include the name, date of birth, and Social Security number of the victim. Using this information, he provided Peters with a counterfeit South Carolina driver license in the name and identity of the victim, but with Peters’s picture on it. Smith then drove Peters to different branches of the Navy Federal Credit Union in Clay and Duval Counties. Using the victim’s identity, Peters subsequently made various fraudulent transactions involving the withdrawal of large amounts of cash and the purchase of multiple $500 gift cards, utilizing the victim’s account. Smith and Peters also went to multiple cell phone stores in Clay and Duval Counties. Using the victim’s identity, they obtained several thousand dollars of cell phones and accompanying merchandise.
Smith, without the involvement of Peters, also was involved with a check fraud scheme. As part of the scheme, Smith would deposit fraudulent checks into various VyStar Credit Union accounts and subsequently make ATM withdrawals before it was determined the deposited check was fraudulent.
This case was investigated by United States Secret Service – Jacksonville Field Office, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, and the Orange Park Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kevin C. Frein.