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New York man charged with fraud

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Published March 09. 2019 07:03AM

A New York man has been charged with fraud after a traffic stop in Carbon County several years ago led to the discovery that he had at least 19 fraudulent credit cards and driver’s licenses.

According to the affidavit of probable cause filed by trooper Daniel Spath of the Pennsylvania State Police Troop N/Fern Ridge:

At 4:35 a.m. Dec. 20, 2015, trooper Larry McDaniel and Spath were traveling along Interstate 80 in East Side Borough when a blue vehicle was observed traveling on I-80 in the left lane when the right lane was free and clear.

A traffic stop was initiated, and Spath made contact with the driver, who was identified as Christopher Heredia.

Spath was immediately overcome by the strong odor of marijuana emanating from inside the vehicle, and noticed a marked reddening of Heredia’s eyes.

Heredia appeared nervous, so Spath requested his license, registration and proof of insurance, which he had difficulty displaying.

The front seat passenger was identified as Steven Ramirez-Lugo, 27. The rear seat passenger was identified as Jayquan Birkett.

While speaking with Birkett, Spath observed a clear plastic bag containing marijuana on the rear passenger side floor.

Heredia said there was another bag of marijuana in the center console.

Heredia stated he had smoked marijuana a little while ago.

Based on Spath’s observations and having probable cause to believe the vehicle contained contraband, a search was conducted.

The clear plastic bag containing marijuana on the rear passenger side floor which Spath had previously seen was seized, along with a clear plastic bag containing marijuana in the center console and clear plastic bag containing small plastic bags in a cigar box under the driver’s seat.

A black backpack was located in the trunk, which Ramirez-Lugo said belonged to him.

During the search of the backpack, 19 fraudulent credit cards and 19 fraudulent driver’s licenses from Connecticut, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and Illinois were discovered.

Ramirez-Lugo was taken into custody, and was found to be in possession of $2,140. Three additional fraudulent driver’s licenses were found in Ramirez-Lugo’s wallet.

Ramirez-Lugo was interviewed at 7:30 a.m., at which time he said he intended to travel to Ohio to purchase iPhones with the fraudulent driver’s licenses and credit cards.

Ramirez-Lugo said the $2,140 was going to be used to pay the initial fee associated with setting up fraudulent accounts with AT&T Wireless to obtain iPhones.

Ramirez-Lugo faces charges of access device fraud and violations concerning licenses.

He is currently incarcerated in the Carbon County Correctional Facility in lieu of $100,000 bail, and scheduled to have a preliminary hearing at 9:45 a.m. March 20 before District Judge Joseph D. Homanko Sr.

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