Julie S. Pfluger
MADISON, WIS. – John W. Vaudreuil, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Julian Harris, 34, Chicago, was sentenced Friday, February 4, by U.S. District Judge William M. Conley to 30 months in federal prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for participating in a counterfeit gift card fraud scheme. Harris pleaded guilty to this charge on November 1, 2016.
Harris and his co-conspirator, Fallon Witherspoon, also of Chicago, obtained prepaid gift cards encoded with stolen credit card or bank account information. From October to December 2013, Harris and Witherspoon traveled from Chicago to Wisconsin and used the counterfeit gift cards to purchase legitimate gift cards and merchandise from Walmart stores in Monroe, La Crosse, Chippewa, Dunn, and St. Croix Counties.
Harris and Witherspoon also traveled to Minnesota and conducted fraudulent transactions there. They were not charged with these crimes in Minnesota; however, as part of their guilty pleas, they agreed to pay restitution for all losses relating to the fraud scheme. As part of his sentence, Harris was ordered to pay $41,919 in restitution.
Harris is currently serving an eight-year state sentence for being a felon in possession of a firearm in Chicago. Additionally, in February 2016, Harris was convicted of a similar fraud scheme in federal court in the Southern District of Ohio and was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison. He will serve his time for the Ohio crime after he completes serving his time for his Illinois crime, and his sentence in this case will run concurrent to his Ohio sentence.
The charges against Witherspoon and Harris were the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; U.S. Secret Service; Lake Hallie, Tomah, Menomonie, Sparta, Onalaska, La Crosse, and St. Croix Falls Police Departments; and with the assistance of Walmart Asset Protection. The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Pfluger.