EAST ST. LOUIS (WRXX) – A 36-year-old Knoxville, Tennessee woman was sentenced Wednesday in federal court in East St. Louis to more than two years in prison for her involvement in a bank fraud scheme that targeted female victims in southern Illinois.
Mary M. Thornhill conspired with others to cash stolen checks and fraudulently obtain funds from financial institutions using stolen IDs – including driver’s licenses – belonging to individuals living in southern Illinois. The group targeted banks in the Metro East and included women in Clinton and Marion counties.
At the time of her guilty plea, Thornhill admitted that members of the conspiracy broke into vehicles parked in public places throughout southern Illinois to steal valuables left in those vehicles, including purses and wallets containing IDs and checkbooks.
After the thefts, members of the organization wrote checks from the stolen checkbooks made payable to other persons from whom the group had stolen identities.
Thornhill and her co-defendant, Delvin Mills, attempted to cash checks at local banks using the furthest lane of each bank’s drive-up window to avoid detection by the tellers.
The “Felony Lane Gang” is a term used by law enforcement to describe individuals who use this particular tactic to defraud banks.
Thornhill posed as the female victims and wore wigs or otherwise disguised herself to look more like the photos on the stolen IDs.
In addition to the 36-month prison sentence, the court ordered Thornhill to pay restitution to her victims, a $200 fine, and spend three years on supervised release.
The investigation was conducted by local and federal law enforcement agencies, including Clinton County, Germantown, New Baden, Salem, and the United States Secret Service.