Ex-California Lawmaker Sentenced in Fraud Case Uncovered by Credit Union
Carl E. Washington, a former California assemblyman and division chief of the Los Angeles County Probation Department, was sentenced this week after pleading guilty to federal bank fraud charges involving an identity theft scheme that was exposed by the $362 million LA Financial Credit Union in Pasadena, Calif.
Washington was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge S. James Otero in Los Angeles to one day in custody, one year of home confinement and two years of supervised release.
He was also ordered to pay $193,661 in restitution to the $508 million First City Credit Union in Los Angeles, LA Financial Credit Union and Farmers and Merchants Bank.
Washington of Paramount, Calif., admitted he defrauded the three financial institutions by concealing several unpaid debts—debts that he stopped paying—and his overall lack of creditworthiness, according to the FBI in Los Angeles.
Washington was able to hide his bad debts by filing a series of bogus police reports with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, falsely claiming to be the victim of identity theft. After filing the false police reports, Washington sent copies of the reports to the credit reporting agency Experian, demanding the information relating to the bad debts be removed from his credit report, records showed.
Once Experian removed this data from his credit report, Washington submitted applications for new credit cards to the credit unions and bank. He failed to disclose all of his outstanding debts and that he had negative information reported by other financial institutions removed from his credit report, according to federal authorities.
Once the credit unions and bank issued new credit cards to Washington, he purchased goods and services. But, after making several payments, Washington contacted Experian and, claiming that he was the victim of identity theft, requested that information related to the new credit cards be removed from his credit report.
The FBI said Washington’s scheme was exposed when he attempted to refinance two auto loans through LA Financial CU. When the credit union examined Washington’s credit report, it discovered that the auto loans the credit union had previously issued were not showing up on his credit report.
LA Financial learned from Experian that Washington disputed he had earlier sought to refinance his auto loans and that he claimed to be a victim of identity theft. Because LA Financial knew Washington’s claims were false, it froze his credit card account and notified the authorities.
Washington was elected to the California legislature in 1996 and he served in the assembly until 2002. He later landed a job with the Los Angeles County Probation Department, where he ran a unit called Intergovernmental Relations and Legislative Affairs. He has lost his job with the agency, according to local media reports.