A federal judge in Orange County has punished a crook who participated in a Southern California identity theft ring that victimized Walmart stores with fake credit cards.
Neil Magbag Santos blamed methamphetamine for his crimes and claimed his attempt to avoid the reach of federal law enforcement officers was partly noble: to care for his ailing mother in the Philippines.
Santos won credit in the Department of Justice by ending a three-year stay overseas in June 2012 by surrendering to a U.S. Postal Inspector in Manila.
Six months later he signed a guilty plea in exchange for a reduction in charges, according to court records.
Assistant United States Attorney Ann Luoffo Wolf recommended a 39-month sentence in the case while Santos' criminal defense lawyer told U.S. District Court Judge James V. Selna that his client is remorseful and deserving of a "reasonable and just" punishment.
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This week, Selna agreed with Wolf's recommendation and ordered the crook to also pay nearly $9,000 in victim restitution.
Santos, 54, remains locked today inside the Santa Ana Jail and is awaiting a bus trip to a federal prison.