By Joe Beck -- firstname.lastname@example.org
A Maryland man was sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Harrisonburg to 12 months and one year in prison as a result of his involvement in a ring that used fraudulent credit cards to buy cigarettes in Woodstock.
Ibrahiima Doukoure, 54, of Greenbelt, also faces the possibility of deportation to his native Guinea after admitting that he has been in the United States illegally since his visa expired in the early 1990s.
Judge Michael F. Urbanski imposed the sentence, which will require Doukoure to serve only a few weeks in jail as a result of receiving credit for 10 1/2 months time served behind bars since his arrest. Urbanski also sentenced Doukoure to one-year probation and ordered him to pay $9,332 in restitution jointly with two other defendants in the case, Mamadou Bah and Mamadou Diallo.
All three have pleaded guilty to one count of participating in a conspiracy to use an unauthorized access device, possessing device-making equipment and possessing contraband cigarettes.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary Lee told Urbanski that Doukoure was found with 15 "re-encoded" credit cards on him at the time he was arrested with the other two defendants in mid-December.
Their arrests came after an off-duty police officer saw their activities at a Sheetz gas station in Woodstock and reported them to other law enforcement officers. They were arrested three days later. Officers searching their vehicles discovered 45 credit cars or gift cards "that contained fraudulently obtained account information," according to online court documents.
Doukoure and Bah later told investigators that Diallo used a computer to re-encode the credit cards for the purpose of buying cigarettes, authorities said.
Doukoure's attorney, assistant federal public defender Andrea L. Harris, argued that her client should receive no more jail time beyond time already served. She cited his age, absence of any previous criminal record, health problems and willingness to admit to the crime as reasons for no additional incarceration. She said there was no evidence he ever used any of the re-encoded credit cards.
In a sentencing memorandum, Harris said Doukoure is married and has two children. She said he received an accounting degree from Nasser University in his native country and came to the United States in 1991 on a visitor's visa.
She said he has worked as a parking lot attendant and waiter during his time in the United States.
Harris said after the hearing that Doukoure could still be returned to prison or face deportation after completing his prison sentence, depending on how immigration authorities respond to his status as an illegal immigrant.