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Woman gets eight years for identity theft scam.

Byline: Bill Bishop The Register-Guard

A 30-year-old mother of three was sentenced Friday to more than eight years in prison for a "calculated, predatory" scheme of identity theft involving more than 40 victims.

But the judge in the case said the real victims are Jennifer Lee Bohnstehn's three children, who are now in state foster care. Bohnstehn's husband, Dale Joseph Bohnstehn, 45, awaits trial on 60 counts of theft.

Jennifer Bohnstehn pleaded guilty to 27 charges in a 35-count indictment, but failed to appear in court for a scheduled sentencing hearing in December. A Eugene police officer spotted her on the street and arrested her.

Deputy Lane County District Attorney David Schwartz said he is still weighing whether to charge her for crimes she allegedly committed after she skipped court.

The Bohnstehns' scheme was more sophisticated than most identity thefts, in which thieves typically break into cars to steal checks and credit cards to make quick purchases to trade for drugs, Schwartz said.

The Bohnstehns stole mail to harvest account numbers and identity information, and then used computers to counterfeit checks with fake account numbers or to create fake identity cards to use other people's accounts, Schwartz said in court.

The "calculated, predatory" scheme supported their methamphetamine addiction, he said.

Defense lawyer H. Thomas Evans sought a shorter prison term, asking Lane County Circuit Judge Jack Billings to consider other similar cases that brought lesser sentences.

Evans said Jennifer Bohnstehn is the daughter of a retired Oregon State Police trooper and has no prior convictions. He blamed Dale Bohnstehn, an ex-convict, for dragging her into a lifestyle of drug addiction, theft and dependence on him.

"She was his tool in helping him do this," Evans told the judge.

Bohnstehn tearfully apologized in court and said she didn't intend to hurt anyone. Questioned by Billings, she admitted she never thought about the consequences of her acts.

"To describe this as pathetic would be generous," Billings told her. "The real victims here are these three children."

Many of Bohnstehn's thefts fell under the state's repeat-property-offender statute, which provides a 13-month prison term for each theft. Billings followed the prosecutor's request and imposed an eight-year, eight-month term.

Bohnstehn's term will be subject to a 20 percent reduction for good behavior. She also is eligible for the state's six-month boot camp program when she has three years or less remaining on her sentence.
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Title Annotation:Courts; The mother of three stole mail for account numbers and personal information in a "calculated" scheme
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jan 7, 2006
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