- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Two D.C. residents have pleaded guilty in federal court in the District to organizing a scam using stolen credit-card information to pay fines owed to the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles.

LaDonna Gray, 27, and Lonnell Duckett, 36, both of Southeast, admitted to an arrangement to pay fines in exchange for cash.

Gray pleaded guilty on Monday, and Duckett pleaded guilty yesterday. The charges carry a maximum 15 years in prison, though sentencing guidelines make prison unlikely for Gray and Duckett, authorities said.

Neither was employed by the District.

Authorities said Gray acquired credit-card information through her job as a customer service representative at a U-Haul branch in Northeast, and used the account numbers to pay fines through the District’s online ticket payment system.

Duckett, who worked in a snack shop at the U.S. Department of Transportation, referred at least two of his co-workers to his “DMV connection.” After giving Duckett $500 in cash, one of the co-workers received the phone number of a woman identified as “Donna.”

The co-worker gave “Donna” a vehicle tag number and received a receipt showing that $1,500 in fines had been paid, court records show.

The investigation began last year after four customers at the U-Haul filed complaints about phony credit-card charges.

The scheme allowed Duckett to pay off about $700 in fines and to pay his cable bills.

The Department of Motor Vehicles allows credit-card payments over the Internet for parking tickets and red-light and speed-camera violations, and provides receipts for the transactions.

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