MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A 44-year-old woman pleaded guilty Thursday to receiving $600 in connection with a multi-state identity theft ring that stole about $2 million from retail stores and financial institutions, the Department of Justice said.

Cynthia Andrea Maxwell, of St. Paul, pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. She faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

District court Judge Paul A. Magnuson will sentence Maxwell.

In a plea agreement, Maxwell admitted that in May of 2009 she received money from fraudulent activity. The money was wired to her by a co-conspirator in Iowa who got it from issuing counterfeit checks to purchase expensive items at retail stores, which the conspirator later returned for cash, the department said.

Maxwell also admitted to filling out counterfeit checks that were later passed by co-conspirators to get merchandise and cash. She also signed cards with victim’s names that were later turned into fake identification documents.

Along with fraudulently getting money from retail stores, the theft ring Maxwell worked with also deposited counterfeit checks into the accounts of unsuspecting people only the take cash out shortly after. The group operated in some 14 states.

Sixteen of the ring’s conspirators have already pleaded guilty to various counts of bank fraud, identity theft and money laundering. Kelly Jenelle Scott, 43, pleaded guilty to bank fraud and identity theft Wednesday.

Ten others have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial, the department said.


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