The man who led an identity-theft ring that ran up a quarter-million dollars worth of charges from inside a federal prison has been sentenced to more than 14 years in prison.

The defendant thought he found a way to occupy his time in prison,” , Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio,. said. “With this prosecution and this sentence, he’ll have lots more time to learn to follow the rules.”

Dimorio McDowell, age 34, of Atlanta, Georgia, previously pled guilty to aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud. McDowell was an inmate at Fort Dix Federal Correctional Institution at the time of the scheme, which took place between August 2009 and April 2010. U.S. District Judge Donald Nugent ordered McDowell’s 174-month sentence on this case begin in 2014, when he completes the current sentence that resulted in his incarceration at Fort Dix.

McDowell was the ringleader who obtained personal information on people who had credit card accounts at various retailers, including Best Buy, Home Depot, J.C. Penney, Lowe’s, Macy’s, Nordstrom’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Sears and Staples, according to court documents.

Ran up consumers' accounts

McDowell contacted the retailers and impersonated the true account holders, store employees, or corporate fraud investigators. He used information about the account holders, such as name, address, or Social Security number during those calls to obtain additional information about them and adding co-conspirators names as authorized users of the accounts, thus taking over the accounts, according to court documents.

After taking over the accounts, adding additional users to the accounts and opening new accounts, McDowell communicated with his co-conspirators, all of whom lived in the Cleveland area.

McDowell continued to run his scheme from prison even after he was charged and after he pled guilty. He also posed as a deputy U.S. Marshal over the telephone and attempted to have prisoners moved, according to information presented during the sentencing hearing.

Overall, the ring purchased more than $254,000 worth of merchandise as part of their scheme, according to court documents.

Also charged in the case are: Andre Reese, 37; Jeffery McClain, 39; Kevin McBride, 34; Michael Sailes, 51; Edwin Peavy, 52; Daniel Ashford, 37; James L. Wiggins, 47, and Jay Williams, 27, all of Cleveland, Ohio. All have entered guilty plea to charges against them.

This case is a stark reminder about the need to protect yourself from identity theft and fraud,” Dettelbach said. “I want to thank the FBI, the Bureau of Prisons and all our partners who made prosecuting this case possible.”