ID theft ringleader sentenced to 20 years in prison

By Jill Kuramoto
Published On: Jan 30 2013 11:10:44 AM HST
Updated On: Jan 16 2013 10:18:36 PM HST

Pyong Pak, the leader behind a largest identity theft ring, was handed a 20 year sentence.

HONOLULU -

The ring leader of the largest identity theft case in Oahu history was sentenced to 20 years in prison Wednesday.

"I am sorry for what I did,” said Pyong "Peter" Pak, 42, testifying at his sentencing hearing in Circuit Court.

What Pak did according to prosecutors, was mastermind a widespread identity theft ring.

"I hope that one day the people I hurt can forgive me," said Pak.

Pak and 14 others were prosecuted for breaking into homes and cars, stealing mail, dumpster diving, even buying personal information from chronic drug users to create fake ads, credit cards and bank accounts, stealing more than $200,000 from more than 250 victims over a 13 month period ending in October 2010.  This is the third time Pak has been prosecuted for ID theft.

"Mr. Pak is the reason we have identity theft laws in Hawaii," said deputy prosecutor Chris Van Marter.

Prosecutors wanted the judge to serve Pak with the maximum sentence possible based on 80 counts of ID theft.  Pak plead guilty to the charges last October.

"He’s a menace to society," said Van Marter.

Pak’s attorney blamed his client’s untreated Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from serving in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division for his addiction to crystal meth -- an addiction which he said led to his crimes.

"Does that excuse the repetition and the number of offenses? Absolutely does not. But it indicates we have a societal problem," said defense attorney Eric Seitz.

Judge Collette Garibaldi took into account his PTSD and drug addiction, as well as Pak’s military service and limited criminal history when she handed down a 20 year sentence, with a mandatory minimum of eight years in prison.

"Yes, he’s going to prison but hopefully now he’ll get some treatment," said Seitz.

But it’s not over for Pak, who is not a U.S. citizen.  He now faces deportation to South Korea.

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