Charles McLaurin appeared in court March 5 to face charges related to two identity theft cases … but then he left the courtroom when U.S. District Judge Bruce Kauffman recessed to determine his sentence and is now gone, baby, gone.
McLaurin, a 30-year-old Philadelphia resident, was charged with leading an identity theft ring that stole the identities of Camden County NJ school district teachers and retirees, and using the information to open credit cards accounts. The crimes, which took place between December 2001 and June 2003, resulted in roughly $71,000 in losses.
In a 2005 scheme, McLaurin used a neighbor’s identity to open new credit card accounts and take out car loans. In this case he racked up $30,000 in damages.
McLaurin had already pleaded guilty in December to the charges resulting from both cases before he made the March 5 court appearance for sentencing, but apparently didn’t like the way things were shaping up for him, so he split.
Overly-trusting U.S. marshals called him and talked to him on the phone that same night, and he assured them he’d be back in court the next day to face justice.
The judge was expected to sentence McLaurin to 10 years and restitution of $101,000.
Big surprise: He never showed up.
McLaurin, who was on house arrest, has now been indicted for failing to appear for his March 6 sentencing and the judge has handed down a bench warrant for his arrest. The failure to appear charge carries a maximum three-year sentence. The judge is not expected to show lenience or generosity in his sentencing.
Another big surprise: Gwenda Brown, McLaurin’s mom and an alleged accomplice in the schoolteacher identity theft case, is also a fugitive.