A homeless California woman armed with as many as two dozen fake driver's licenses stole $185,000 as part of a sophisticated identity theft ring, authorities said Tuesday.
Pamela Keane, 48, of Livermore, Calif., sobbed as DuPage County Judge George Bakalis sentenced her to nine years in prison. Keane, who said she committed the crimes in exchange for drugs, asked the judge for probation.
"I'm grateful that I got caught so I can have a chance to redeem myself," Keane said. "I didn't commit these crimes to get jewelry and cars — I did it to feed my addiction."
But Bakalis said he was troubled that Keane allegedly committed another theft as recently as March, while free on bail.
Keane and four others were arrested by Downers Grove police last year and charged in connection with operating an identity theft ring. As the probe expanded, investigators identified Keane in a half-dozen thefts at banks in the Chicago area in fall 2012. She pleaded guilty.
Posing as a California resident who had an account at the individual bank, Keane would present a fake driver's license and withdraw money, prosecutors said.
A detective testified that Keane once entered a Lombard bank with her arm in a sling and told a bank employee that her signature wouldn't look like the one in bank records because of an injury. Keane left with $15,000, said David Zdan, state's attorney investigator.
The following day, Keane withdrew another $16,000 from the same account, Zdan said.
After she was arrested in December 2012 and posted bail, Keane traveled to the Milwaukee area where she withdrew $25,000 from the bank accounts of another California woman, Assistant State's Attorney Diane Michalak said. Michalak asked the judge to impose a 13-year sentence.
Defense attorney Dean Kekos asked for probation or the minimum sentence of four years. Keane was a methamphetamine addict, he said.
"She was recruited and came to Illinois willingly to avoid living in an alley," Kekos said.