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RACINE – Cash bond was set at $50,000 in court here Thursday for Michael T. Myers, a man accused of identity theft involving at least five people. He remained in custody in the Racine County Jail.
Myers, 34, of Elkhorn, was apprehended Monday by the Racine County Sheriff’s Office-Criminal Investigation Bureau, officers from the Walworth County Sheriff’s Office and the Elkhorn Police Department. During the execution of a search warrant for a fraud investigation, Myers attempted to elude authorities by reportedly hiding in the attic of his residence. He was eventually arrested without incident and taken to the Racine County Jail.
The Racine County District Attorney’s Office charged Myers with:
- Six counts of felony personal identification theft-financial gain
- One count of felony theft-false representation
- Eleven counts of misdemeanor bail jumping
According to the criminal complaint, a Racine County Sheriff’s Office investigator met with an individual from Rochester on Feb. 27 who had learned that someone had applied for a Wisconsin state identification card using his identifying information. Myers later used that ID and other personal details to withdraw $3,800 from his checking account at North Shore Bank in Milwaukee on Feb. 20. He then applied for two credit cards, an ATM card and loans from a bank and a credit union.
Photos provided by North Shore Bank showed the individual who made the checking account withdrawal to be “a white male wearing a gray winter cap, dark sunglasses and a winter jacket,” the complaint stated. He was driving a dark-colored Chevrolet Silverado Z71 pickup truck.
In further investigation, the Sheriff’s Office investigators learned two other Wisconsin ID card applications were made in early February. Two of the ID cards were sent to a vacant lot under development in Mukwonago and a third was sent to a vacant lot under development in East Troy.
Car Dealer Connection
The complaint also stated that investigators found that a Chevrolet Silverado with a stolen license plate had been driven to North Shore Bank. Myers stole the license plate from a vehicle at Kunes Auto Group in Elkhorn. They also learned that Myers had been a salesman at the dealership and recently resigned “for stealing customers’ personal identifying information.” Myers had also purchased a Chevrolet Silverado Z71 from Kunes.
The Rochester man, who had initially reported the identity theft, told investigators that he had shopped for a vehicle at Kunes Auto Group and met a salesman named “Mike” and would have provided personal identifying information for purposes of a credit check, according to the complaint.
A Kunes employee, who had worked with Myers, told an investigator that Myers had access to customers’ personal identifying information. The employee also said that in a March 6 conversation, Myers “was hinting at what he was actually doing, namely stealing by creating fake identities to access people’s money.” The employee also said that Myers was associated “with a male identified only as Knowledge.”
During an execution of a search warrant at Myers’ residence, deputies found six debit cards bearing four individuals’ names. All four of the individuals had been Kunes Auto Group customers.
Using Fake Addresses
Myers’ ex-girlfriend told investigators that he “has a gambling problem,” according to the complaint. While working at Kunes Auto Group, he had access to a computer program that held customers’ personal identifying information. She said, “there were instances where she confronted Myers about copying down individuals’ personal information, but Myers claimed it was work-related.”
The woman said that Myers “told her about wire transfers he set up to addresses under construction by Bielinski Construction Inc. in East Troy, Lake Geneva, Elkhorn and Mukwonago.” She said that Myers explained that the company had placed mailboxes on the properties before anyone is living there, “so when he orders ID cards and/or credit cards, he has them mailed to the addresses.” Myers would receive email notifications of when the items were delivered.
The woman also identified the vehicle in the North Shore Bank photos as looking identical to Myers’ car and that she had seen the clothing worn by the person in the photo as clothing that belonged to Myers. He told her, “nothing will come back to me. I had stolen plates.” She also said that Myers had discussed fleeing the state because ‘he was in a lot of trouble.’”
Sheriff’s Office investigators found that Mukwonago Police had been dispatched to a suspicious vehicle report, specifically Myers’ Chevrolet Silverado Z71. That traffic stop had taken place 1.6 miles away from one of the mailboxes where Myers had ordered IDs to be sent. Mukwonago Police also reported that Myers’ vehicle had been seen in the area four nights in a row.
Search Warrant Findings
Among the items found when deputies executed a search warrant at Myers’ residence were:
- Several suicide notes on the kitchen counter believed to be from Myers
- “Washed” BMO Harris Bank checks
- Three cell phones
- Various documents, including bankruptcy documents, lottery W-2s and 401-k withdrawals.
- A gray winter cap (similar to the one appearing in the North Shore Bank photos)
Investigators also found text messages between Myers and a phone number, confirmed by his ex-girlfriend, as “Knowledge” involving personal identifying information that had been taken, a question about North Shore Bank and photo images that included stacks of money and Myers’ Silverado Z71.
Myers’ cell phone also contained recent internet searches for banks, bank accounts, “Wisconsin temporary ID,” “how to disguise yourself as an old man,” and “how to deposit money into someone else’s bank account.”
According to the criminal complaint, Myers agreed to make a statement to investigators after his arrest. He denied being involved in the North Shore Bank withdrawal, claimed he did not have the ID related to the bank account, claimed he was not familiar with Mukwonago and did not know the individuals whose debit cards were found in the search of his residence.