OCEANSIDE — Members of an alleged credit card fraud ring will have to stand trial in connection with the more than 100 phony credit cards police found in the foursome’s possession, a San Diego Superior Court judge ruled Aug. 24.
Joanne Christmas, 29; Michael John Lazar, 41; William Anthony McNamara, 49; and Jennifer Ann O’Brien, 23, are each charged with multiple felony counts of counterfeiting access cards, fraud and identity theft relating to their arrest June 14, in which police found the foursome in possession of 117 fraudulent credit cards, and the materials and equipment used to create the fake access cards.
O’Brien is also charged with two felony counts of burglary. Christmas is facing one felony count of possession of heroin as well as one count each for possessing drug paraphernalia and giving false information to a peace officer, both misdemeanors. Additionally, McNamara is charged with driving on a suspended license, a misdemeanor.
Oceanside police Detective Randy Markham testified the foursome had spent a couple of days together driving around North County in a van targeting businesses using fake access cards. In the hours leading up to their arrest, Markham said O’Brien attempted to purchase items at a North County Ralph’s and CVS, but was unsuccessful. In the latter attempt, Christmas accompanied O’Brien to the register, the detective said.
At the time of their arrest, Markham said each defendant had multiple fraudulent access cards on them. He said the foursome used prepaid credit cards, and embossed their names and stolen credit card numbers onto the card as well as reprogrammed the cards to use the stolen access numbers.
According to Markham, there were 14 victims, many of whom stated to police they were not sure how their credit card numbers were compromised.
McNamara and Christmas were arrested together in 2004 in connection with methamphetamines charges. Christmas pleaded guilty to possessing the controlled substance, and McNamara was convicted of transporting methamphetamines and possessing the drug as well.
For McNamara, that arrest marked his last of five drug convictions dating back to 1988. On the other hand, Christmas’ conviction marked the beginning of a string of run-ins with law that would lead to three more drug possession convictions within the next two years.
Christmas remains in custody on a no bail hold because of an outstanding warrant she had for violating her probation. McNamara is also in jail on $30,000 bail. However, Lazar is free on $20,000 bail and O’Brien on $45,000 bail.
The foursome’s trial is scheduled for Oct. 13.