FROM:
Stephen Gibbons, Assistant District Attorney   CONTACT PERSON:
Dale B. Lohman, Deputy District Attorney
Major Fraud Unit
(408) 792-2599    For Release on December 23, 2003     DEFENDANT HELD TO ANSWER IN IDENTITY THEFT CASE   Defendant Manuel Vasquez Contreras, 63, will face trial in Superior Court on identity theft charges. He was held to answer on December 23, 2003 following a preliminary hearing in Superior Court and a lengthy investigation by the San Jose Police Department Fraud Unit.   Contreras is charged with twenty-two felony counts: three counts of Penal Code section 530.5 (identity theft); ten counts of Penal Code section 484-487 (grand theft); two counts of Penal Code section 118 (making a false declaration in an application for vehicle registration); Penal Code section 470b (possession of a counterfeit driver’s license); Health & Safety Code section 11359 (possession for sale of marijuana); and two counts of Health & Safety Code section 11350 (possession of cocaine). He also faces two counts of Penal Code section 12316(b) (felon in possession of ammunition) and one count of Penal Code section 12021(a)(1) (felon in possession of a firearm) based on his federal conviction for possession of a firearm during drug trafficking and possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute. He is also charged with taking in excess of $50,000 from the victims pursuant to Penal Code section 12022.6.   Manuel Contreras is alleged to have used the name, date of birth, and social security number of one of the victims to obtain credit card accounts with at least eight different financial institutions and to have made purchases against those accounts. He is also alleged to have used the victim’s personal information to fraudulently purchase two vehicles from local dealerships and to have registered the vehicles with the Department of Motor Vehicles using the name and driver’s license number of two additional victims without their knowledge or permission. None of the victims knows how the defendant obtained their personal information. Manuel Contreras is alleged to have stolen over $116,000.
  
The defendant is scheduled for arraignment in Superior Court on January 5, 2004. If convicted, Manuel Contreras faces over twenty years in state prison.  

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