By DOUGLAS W. MOTLEY
A warrant search in the 23800 block of Skyland Drive in Crestline on Wednesday, Jan. 17 resulted in the arrest of two suspects on charges that include identity theft, check fraud, conspiracy and theft under false pretenses.
Deputies from the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Station were seen combing the residence and several parked vehicles for evidence for over four hours.
Sgt. Emmanuel Popa from the sheriff’s Twin Peaks station told the Alpine Mountaineer on Thursday, Jan. 18 that the suspects – who were identified as Ashley Dunkin, 23, of Crestline and Casey Bennett, 32, of San Diego – were taken into custody and booked at the sheriff’s Central Detention Center in San Bernardino, with bail set at $30,000.
Sheriff’s investigators at the scene reportedly found and recovered equipment used to commit check fraud and identity theft. “Evidence recovered at the residence includes a large amount of stolen identities, mail and fake checks. This is an ongoing investigation, and we still have victim contacts pending,” Sgt. Popa said.
According to a nearby neighbor, there were at least four or five persons residing at the home, including an underage female high school student who visited frequently. “I’m not at all surprised; this is not the first time something like this has happened. There were a lot of cars coming and going at two or three o’clock in the morning. They were not very friendly, and they mostly kept to themselves,” the neighbor said, adding that the owner of the home, a man named Dean, was one of those who was defrauded.
If convicted of check fraud (PC 476), the penalty is three years in county jail. Identity fraud (PC 530.5) is punishable by a sentence of three years in jail, as is theft under false pretenses (PC 532 A), while a conspiracy conviction (PC 182) can result in a one-year jail sentence and a fine of up to $10,000.