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ID thieves plead guilty, go to prison

As one woman’s 30th birthday nears, she’ll be starting a 10-year prison sentence.

Melanie Baillee is one of two women who pleaded guilty Friday afternoon to numerous counts of identity theft and forgery in Island County Superior Court.

Baillee, a 29-year-old Anacortes resident, pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree identity theft, eight counts of second-degree identity theft and 37 counts of forgery. Island County Superior Court Judge Alan Hancock sentenced her to 10 years in prison and ordered her to pay $8,800 in fines, fees and restitution.

Amanda Songer, a 26-year-old transient, pleaded guilty Friday to one count of leading organized crime, one count of first-degree identity theft, eight counts of second-degree identity theft and 37 counts of forgery.

Hancock sentenced her to 12 years and five months in prison and also ordered her to pay $8,800. Her address was listed as the county jail.

The women’s pleas stem from arrests made in early July. When Baillee was arrested, police discovered large volumes of mail, credit cards, boxes of checks and identification belonging to different people. Some of the checks discovered in the van were made out to Songer, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

“To say this is a widespread case of identity theft is an understatement,” Hancock said during the hearing.

Josh Choate, Island County deputy prosecutor, said the two women were originally facing 100 counts, mostly identity theft. That number was reduced after determining who suffered financial losses stemming from the identity theft.

“The Oak Harbor Police Department did a really good job notifying victims,” Choate said.

Baillee’s sentence would typically have ranged between 63 to 84 months, however, all parties agreed to an exceptional sentence because of the number of victims involved.

Choate said he wanted both women to receive similar sentences for the crimes.

Songer’s sentence is longer because of the single count of leading organized crime. Choate said she seemed to be more involved because she had a storage unit in Skagit County and a duffel bag at another location containing stolen mail.

Both Songer and Baillee could be facing similar charges in Skagit County, Choate said.

You can reach News-Times reporter Nathan Whalen at nwhalen@whidbeynewstimes.com or call 675-6611.

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