A well-known Springfield man is headed to federal prison for making, using, and possessing fake credit cards.
31 year old Calvin Christian III of Springfield was sentenced on Thursday to 2 years in federal prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for six counts of either possessing or using counterfeit access devices or related offenses.
According to a press release, the federal government presented evidence that beginning in late 2014 Christian obtained card-encoding hardware that connected to his computer allowing him to re-code information from credit cards, gift cards, or other cards with magnetic stripes. He then used cryptocurrency to purchase stolen credit card information on the internet and used the information with the encoding hardware to make “new” credit cards that were linked credit card or bank accounts of other individuals. He and others then used the fraudulent cards to purchase goods or gift cards. Christian was held accountable for $44,634.34 in total loss, stemming from conduct which lasted from 2015 to 2017 with some of the fraudulent purchases taking place in Macoupin County, South Jacksonville, and Jacksonville at two Dollar General stores, Circle K, and Wal-Mart.
United States District Judge Sue E. Myerscough found Christian was an organizer or leader and that the offense involved at least six financial institutions and 14 individual victims. She also noted the length of his criminal actions and his persistence in continuing his enterprise, even after he had been caught multiple times.
Christian was indicted in June of 2017 and pleaded guilty in May of 2019. His sentencing hearing was continued numerous times because of COVID-19.
According to the Illinois Times, Christian’s co-defendants, Bianca Brown, Alexis Kimbrough-Hassan, and Alexis Brown also pleaded guilty to the charges and received a 98-day sentence in 2019, another was sentenced to two months that same year and a third got probation, also in 2019.
The Illinois Times also reports that Christian became a Springfield celebrity more than a decade ago when he amassed over 100 traffic citations, mostly issued by Springfield police, and demanded internal affairs files on officers. In 2011, Christian won a FOIA lawsuit against the City of Springfield asking for police internal affairs records.
In 2013, Christian won $103,000 from Springfield after requesting every internal affairs file held by city police. He made the request after asking for internal affairs files on former deputy chief Cliff Buscher, who’d been arrested in 2008 in Missouri after allegedly firing a gun while drunk. The Buscher file ended up getting shredded leading to the six-figure settlement and the eventual ouster of former police chief Robert Williams and former corporation counsel Mark Cullen. Incumbent Mayor Houston, who took heat over the destruction of police records in the episode that became known as Shredgate, didn’t make it past the 2015 primary.
Christian in 2013 won a lawsuit against the city, again for police disciplinary records, with Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge John Schmidt, who died in 2017, rejecting city arguments that release of files could compromise investigations, reveal identities of people whose names should be confidential and result in the release of information deemed preliminary.
Christian was suspected of creating and using phony credit cards in Missouri, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Nebraska when he was arrested by Springfield Police in 2017. Christian has also long been named as the person behind the Springfield Leaks reporting website, despite Christian denying the allegation. Christian is the son of T.C. Christian, former publisher of Pure News USA, which printed its final edition in July.