Woman pleads no contest to charges of identity theft


POSTED: Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A confessed professional identity thief pleaded no contest in state court yesterday to charges that could put her behind bars for the rest of her life.

Audrey L. Collins, 44, pleaded no contest to racketeering, first-degree identity theft, first-degree theft and unauthorized possession of confidential personal information.

The ID theft charge carries a mandatory 20-year term. But because Collins faces sentencing for more than one felony, the state could ask Circuit Judge Richard Pollack to impose an extended penalty of life in prison with possibility of parole when he sentences her in June.

When police arrested Collins and co-defendant Willie E. Briggs on April 21, Collins had already applied for loans at six CitiFinancial branches using the personal information of six women, the state said.

The applications were for loans totaling $35,000, said Chris Van Marter, deputy prosecutor. Collins had already received loans for $12,500 and was going to pick up a check for another when police arrested her.

Collins told police she worked for an organization on the mainland that sends her the identification documents. She said she had been doing this since 1996 and considers it her job.

Briggs, 48, is scheduled to be tried next month for racketeering, driving without a license and being an accomplice to first-degree identity theft and first-degree theft. Van Marter said Briggs has convictions in North Carolina, Tennessee, Nevada and California.