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Cottage Grove man gets 4-year sentence for identity theft, fraud scheme

A Cottage Grove man was sentenced to four years in prison for his part in a bank fraud case involving the attempted theft of over $300,000.

Jason E. Clark, 40, was ordered this week to serve 48 months in prison after he was convicted of two counts of bank fraud, aggravated identity theft and bank fraud conspiracy. U.S. District Court Judge David Doty sentenced Clark Wednesday at federal court in Minneapolis.

Prosecutors said Clark was part of a scheme that used stolen bank information to produce counterfeit checks and ultimately cash. Clark was convicted in February, after evidence presented at a jury trial proved he conspired with a number of others to secure bank funds from third parties without their knowledge.

The attempted theft involved a number of people and steps. According to U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones' office:

Jason R. Hansen, 33, of Crystal, Minn., worked at a mortgage loan subsidiary company and had access to identification and financial information of people who had applied for mortgages. He stole that data and gave it to Marcus K. Benson, 39, of Maplewood, who used it to create fraudulent checks to obtain cash. Another Maplewood resident, 34-year-old Nou Thao, used the checks with stolen data to deposit into her account to obtain cash.

Between March 2007 and August 2008, Clark conspired with the others to obtain the bank funds, create counterfeit checks with stolen bank information and use Thao's account to commit bank fraud. Clark was found to be responsible for more than $150,000, the federal prosecutor's office said.

Hansen was sentenced to 30 months in prison for bank fraud conspiracy, bank fraud, access device fraud and aggravated identity theft. Thao was sentenced for time already served and 180 days at a community corrections center for bank fraud conspiracy.

Clark, Thao and Hansen were ordered to each pay $96,195 in restitution.

Benson was sentenced in 2009 for taking more than $83,000 from the accounts of others at various financial institutions, the attorney's office said.

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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