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Ex-con from TV’s ‘Lockup’ gets six years for buying department store goods with stolen IDs

Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter
Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter

ONLY ON CVP: A Paterson ex-con was sentenced to six years in prison today for heading an operation that resold more than $150,000 worth of goods that it bought at Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, Sears and other Bergen County stores with bogus credit cards.

“You have quite a record,” Superior Court Judge Edward A. Jerejian told 33-year-old Shontera Jennings this morning. “Over 42 juvenile arrests.”

TV viewers know Jennings from the MSNBC show “Lockup,” shot at the Bergen County Jail in Hackensack.

Her adult criminal history stretches back more than a decade and includes aggravated assaults on police officers, jail records show.

After pleading guilty to trafficking in personal identification, Jennings skipped the original sentencing March 7, then surrendered last Wednesday. Under this morning’s sentence, she won’t be eligible for parole for two years, under this morning’s sentence.

Jennings bought personal finance information on nearly six dozen mortgage and refinancing applicants from an employee with a Paterson company that archives customer files a lending corporation, authorities said.

That man, 49-year-old Kyle Davis, is still awaiting trial in connection with the case. He remains free on $100,000 bail.

The investigation, dubbed “Operation Unauthorized User,” determined that the victims “had recently refinanced or applied for mortgages” through the company, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said at the time.

Jennings applied for and obtained credit cards created with the victims’ information and then recruited “unauthorized buyers” to use the numbers on those cards, Molinelli said.

Detectives from various police departments obtained records and began interviewing potential witnesses, the prosecutor said. They also reviewed surveillance video from the various stores that showed the purchasers in action, he said.

Using the “Account Look-Up” method, the buyers accessed the victims’ credit accounts and then showed a driver’s license or other photo ID to prove they were listed on those accounts, Molinelli said.

Some of the victims went to police after receiving bills from, among others, Comenity Bank (which services Annie Sez, Victoria’s Secret, Lane Bryant and other stores), Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Saks 5th Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Kohl’s, Lowe’s, Sears, and more, the prosecutor said.

Others received mail from the stores congratulating them on new accounts they hadn’t opened.

STORY / PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter

Detectives in Saddle Brook got the ball rolling after contacting Molinelli’s investigators following identity theft complaints.

A multi-jurisdictional Identity Theft Task Force was then formed, including police from:

• Englewood;
• Franklin Lakes;
• Ho-Ho-Kus;
• Midland Park;
• Montvale;
• Bernards Township;
• Chester Township;
• Saddle Brook;
• Saddle River;
• Upper Saddle River;
• Morris County Prosecutor’s Office;
• North Haledon;
• Paterson

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