Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office detectives arrested a man today who is charged in connection with a large-scale identify theft operation that also involved credit card fraud, theft, and counterfeit checks.
Donald Allen Ellis, 55, of West St. Paul, was charged by the Hennepin County Attorney with identity theft and racketeering, both felonies. Ellis is currently in custody at the Hennepin County jail, with bail set at $1 million.
According to a criminal complaint, Ellis was “the boss” who directed the criminal enterprise. He instructed several accomplices to break into vehicles and steal purses. The victims’ credit cards were used to buy merchandise—typically gift cards and I-Pads. Ellis stole the identities of the victims and had their names printed on counterfeit checks, the complaint states. There were at least eight victims and the crimes took place in several counties throughout the metro—including Hennepin, Ramsey, Washington, Dakota, Scott and Carver—and in Wisconsin.
“Identity theft is devastating for victims because it is extremely time-consuming to resolve the damage to their credit history, finances, and reputation,” said Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek in a press release. “These crimes are also costly to our community because it requires extensive resources to investigate and prosecute the criminals who are responsible.”
The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office investigated the operation along with the following law enforcement agencies: Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office, Carver County Sheriff’s Office, Bloomington Police, St. Paul Police, Minneapolis Park Police, Woodbury Police, Apple Valley Police, West St. Paul Police, Roseville Police, Savage Police, White Bear Lake Police, MSP Airport Police, Maplewood Police, Oakdale Police, Inver Grove Heights Police, Cottage Grove Police, Chaska Police, and Eden Prairie Police.
The listed agencies provided information about Ellis and his associates from ongoing criminal investigations. A detective from the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, the Sheriff’s Criminal Information Sharing and Analysis Unit (CISA), and the Hennepin County Attorney's Office worked to tie together the information provided by the agencies to ultimately obtain a racketeering charge against Ellis.
The sheriff’s office continues to investigate this case.