A judge on Monday sentenced a 49-year-old Marina del Rey for bilking banks out of more than $600,000 in a credit card scheme.
A federal jury last year returned a guilty verdict for Johnny Stewart of Marina del Rey along with two other men, including his brother Clayton Stewart, 45 and Dexter Hardy, 45, charging them with conspiracy, bank fraud, access device fraud, aggravated identity theft and money laundering.“This is as deliberate and calculated a scheme as I’ve seen at trial recently,” said U.S. District Judge Gary A. Feess, who called Stewart a “fraud recidivist” with a long criminal history involving similar offenses. Evidence presented during a four-day trial in Los Angeles federal court showed Stewart and his younger brother, Clayton Stewart, fraudulently applied online for unauthorized credit cards from Chase Bank USA, Citibank, Bank of America and Capital One Bank. The trio allegedly requested credit cards be sent to addressed they established using real and fictitious names, according to court documents. After receiving the cards, they made unauthorized purchases and withdrawals, totaling about $600,000. Additionally, the men created fake businesses to open merchant bank accounts and then proceeded to process individual fraudulent transactions with the credit cards acquired, ranging from $103 to $6,400. Feess said that in perpetrating the scheme, Johnny Stewart “smoothly and coolly” persuaded banks to send him replacement credit cards, causing“significant” harm to financial institutions and the people he impersonated. Along with the prison term, Feess sentenced him to serve five years under supervised release after his release from jail, and ordered him to repay a share of $600,000 to the banks he defrauded. The banks involved were Chase Bank, Bank of America and Capital One Bank. In a similar scheme involving bank fraud, Clayton Stewart was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison in February 2008 for a similar scheme involving bank fraud. He was released from custody in September 2010.