ID thief jailed

Published 10:28 am Monday, February 15, 2016

WINTON – A local woman with a long history of identity theft and financial fraud crimes will spend a minimum of 3.5 years behind bars for her two most recent misdeeds.

During a session of Hertford County Superior Court here Wednesday, the Honorable Judge Kenneth F. Crowe sentenced Joy White Davenport of Millennium to three consecutive active prison terms of 14-to-26 months each followed by two judgments, each carrying a 14-to-26 month term in jail, but suspended both on the stipulation of 60 months probation that begins at the expiration of her active sentence. As a condition of that probation, after she is released from prison she cannot take a job with a position of trust where she will manage any finances of her employer.

As part of the judgments, Davenport paid $12,717.69 in restitution to her victims on Wednesday afternoon.

In handing down those judgments after Davenport entered a guilty plea on Monday to 23 counts of felony identity theft and two counts of felony accessing computers, Judge Crowe alluded to the length of the prison term had she been sentenced on the combined 147 felony counts in both cases.

“Mrs. (Valerie) Asbell (the local District Attorney) exercised a lot of prosecutional constraint in this case; you (Davenport) could have faced over 100 years in prison if convicted on all those felony charges,” he noted.

Before entering the plea, Davenport stood charged in one case of 25 felony counts each of identity theft and obtaining property by false pretense, and one felony count each of unlawfully obtaining a credit card and financial card fraud. She was arrested on those charges on March 31, 2015 after evidence was collected in her home, through a search warrant, linking her to a case where she allegedly stole personal information from a victim to establish a credit card account.

That victim was in court on Wednesday, telling the judge that she has been forced to hire an attorney in an effort to straighten out her credit.

While in jail on that charge, another investigation, this one by the Hertford County Sheriff’s Office, led to 82 felonies filed against Davenport for identity theft, obtaining property by false pretense, and accessing a computer for theft.

In that case, Davenport used personal information of an individual, for whom she was working as a babysitter, to go online to the North Carolina Department of Employment Security and filed an unemployment claim in the victim’s name. That application was eventually approved, leading Davenport to collect $282 per week from Oct. 3, 2012 – June 30, 2013.

That crime was not discovered until the victim was later contacted by the IRS regarding the lack of filing unemployment benefits on her tax return: $3,948 in 2012 and $7,332 in 2013.

Using a timeline to build her case against Davenport, Asbell noted how the defendant committed a string of crimes, even after she was on probation for an earlier offense.

“What she was doing was robbing Peter to pay Paul,” said Asbell, alluding to one case in Northampton County where Davenport was convicted of stealing over $100,000 from a place of business between 2007 and 2009 followed by a crime at her place of employment in Greenville (convicted in February, 2013).

Davenport received probation (no jail time) for those two crimes, but has made or is making restitution payments.

“Everything she has done over the years is very calculated,” Asbell continued. “And for those crimes she has only had to serve periods of probation. There comes a time when a person has to be held responsible for their actions, and in these two current cases against her I’m asking for an active prison sentence.”

Asbell also pointed out how identity theft is different from any other crime.

“In these cases, Mrs. Davenport gained the trust of her victims, who allowed her into their inner circle; and then she violated that trust by stealing from them,” the DA stressed.

Afterwards, Asbell stated, “Identity theft is one of the most sinister crimes that we run across in this day in time because of the lasting effects it has on the victims of crime. From researching this topic, victims of identity theft on average spend more than 500 hours and spend sometimes $3,000 or more to repair the damage to their credit. Victims often suffer from mental and emotional stress because of a defendant’s actions. That is why I vigorously prosecute these types of crimes and ask for active sentences.”

In handing down his decision, Judge Crowe also noted the “breaks” Davenport had previously received by dodging active prison time in the other cases.

“The cards played on the table today are a result of your past,” he remarked. “You’ve had breaks all along the way, but yet the pattern of criminal activity on your part continued. Along the way you became braver and braver (in these crimes) until the point where you became brazen.”

Referencing Davenport’s family members and her friends from church who were present in the courtroom on Wednesday, Judge Crowe noted, “The only people in life that break your heart are the ones you love. Mrs. Davenport, you have broken many hearts, to include those sitting behind you today.”

Following court, Davenport was immediately turned over to the North Carolina Department of Corrections to begin serving her prison sentence.

In closing, Asbell stressed that she wanted to thank the investigative efforts of the Ahoskie Police Department and the Hertford County Sheriff’s Office in these two cases.

“It takes a lot of manpower and infinite number of hours investigating these types of crimes. I want to personally thank Det. Justin Farmer of the Ahoskie Police Department and Sgt. John Joyner of the Hertford County Sheriff’s Office. Both of these investigators did an excellent job and made our job easier because of their professionalism.”

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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