gavel.jpgA San Francisco man has been sentenced in federal court to seven and a half years in prison for his role in an operation that involved identity theft and counterfeit credit cards.

Jesse Carter, 37, was given the prison term in San Francisco on Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer for one count of mail fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.

Carter pleaded guilty to the two charges in December.

He admitted in a plea agreement that he had a database of personal identification information for 1,279 people, including credit card numbers, names, addresses and dates of birth.

Carter also admitted to having equipment to make phony credit cards and driver’s licenses.

The devices included a credit card embosser, stencils of driver’s licenses, blank plastic credit cards, a laminator and computer software for creating the fake documents, according to the agreement.

Prosecutors said in a sentencing brief that the losses identified from the scheme thus far add up to nearly $50,000 and said the amount is expected to rise as the investigation continues.

The prosecutors contended the operation was “complex and professional” and that Carter stole or bought the credit card and identity information of thousands of individuals.

Defense attorney Stuart Hanlon argued in an opposing brief that Carter, a methamphetamine addict, was not a sophisticated criminal. Hanlon wrote that Carter was “a drug addict, moving from motel to motel, fraudulently obtaining funds to get his next fix.”

Carter and a co-defendant, Cherie Hokamura, were indicted by a federal grand jury in April 2009. The charges against Hokamura are pending.

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