A Rohnert Park man who racked up $130,000 in damages during a yearlong credit card fraud spree in which he rented an exotic sports car and two high-end vacation homes was sentenced Thursday to more than nine years in jail.
Mohannad Halaweh, 20, also used fake credit cards that he manufactured to buy thounds of dollars worth of gift cards from Safeway stores up and down the North Coast, police said.
He was arrested in June while driving the $240,000 McLaren sports car that had been reported stolen a day earlier from a South Bay rental agency.
Prosecutors initially charged him with 54 criminal counts but he pleaded no contest earlier this year to 15 crimes including identity theft, commerical burglary and grand theft.
Judge Jamie Thistlethwaite handed down a split sentence of nine years and four months in county jail and four years of supervised release. Under state sentencing laws and with credit for time already served, he could be out by 2019.
Halaweh asked through his lawyer for leniency, citing his youth and lack of a criminal record. He also issued a brief apology, saying he accepted responsibility for his crimes.
But Thistlethwaite said he showed sophistication beyond his years and left many victims. She chatised Halaweh for stealing other people’s identities for his own aggrandisement.
“Sir, you’re young but you’re not a child,” the judge said.
About 30 of Halaweh’s friends and family members were present at the sentencing in a Santa Rosa courtroom. Halaweh appeared to fight back tears and woman in the audience sobbed openly when the sentence was announced.
Halaweh is expected to be sentenced later this year in a separate Alameda County case.
You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 568-5312 or email@example.com. On Twitter @ppayne.
Editor’s note: This article and headline have been updated to reflect that part of Halaweh’s sentence will be served in jail, and the rest on supervised release.
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