An identity thief who stole Demi Moore’s limitless American Express card in Santa Monica and went on a $169,000 shopping spree at high end retail stores with his accused co-defendant has been sentenced to a lengthy prison term.
David Matthew Read sought a punishment of no more than 52 months in part by claiming genuine remorse as well as fear of what will happen to him in custody as a transgendered person seeking a sex change.
But federal prosecutors labeled her a “serial fraudster who has dedicated himself to a life of crime” and asserted he is worthy of the maximum guideline sentence of 87 months of incarceration; they claim Read even continued to operate scams via telephone after taken into U.S. Marshal custody.
Inside Orange County’s Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse, U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter determined the appropriate punishment for stealing nearly $200,000 from all the victims in the elaborate credit card identity theft scheme is 70 months, supervised probation for three years after his release plus full restitution.
Prosecutor say Read, who was born in 1982 in rural Virginia, obtained his target’s social security number and other identifying information, infiltrated Federal Express’ online shipping order tracking and, in Moore’s case, posed as her personal assistant sent to retrieve the “Black” card at a Santa Monica FedEx facility.
To bolster his claim of working for the Hollywood actress, the defendant manufactured a legitimate-looking badge.
That ploy worked for about five weeks in early 2018 when he used Moore’s card to shop at Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Apple Store and Bloomingdales, but ended with his arrest by Los Angeles Police Department officers on separate charges in April of that year.
The case against Marc Ian Higley, Read’s co-defendant, remains ongoing with Carter presiding.
At a late April sentencing hearing, Read blamed illegal narcotics use for his crimes and promised he’s reformed.
“I have been able to see the errors in my judgment and events leading to my downward spiral,” she told the judge. “Reflecting on my actions, I cannot stay on this destructive path.”
Carter requested that prison officials consider entering Read into a 500-hour drug rehabilitation program.
Prosecutors remain skeptical, noting that this defendant spent 37 months in prison for a prior bank fraud conviction and has a rap sheet that includes forgery, larceny, embezzlement, check fraud and abusing a trifecta of victims by also stealing from an elderly person, a church and an animal rescue organization.