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Farmington Hills Man Sentenced After Pleading Guilty to Organized Retail Crime Charges
August 07, 2023
LANSING – Darius Whitlow, 31, was sentenced on August 1, 2023, in Emmet County Circuit Court to 29-60 months in prison for his role in a cell phone theft scheme and was taken into custody at the time of sentencing, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced. The Honorable Jennifer Deegan presided over the sentencing, during which Whitlow pled guilty to Organized Retail Fraud, False Pretenses up to $1,000 and less than $20,000, and Identity Theft.
Whitlow perpetrated a scheme in Emmet County using fake IDs to purchase cell phones from stores. Whitlow and his accomplices bought the phones on payment plans and paid only the sales tax upfront. The payment plans were linked to the names and accounts of the people whose identities Whitlow had stolen. He repeated this scheme multiple times with multiple providers, only ever paying sales tax for the phones.
The case against Whitlow was handled by the Department of Attorney General’s newly established Organized Retail Crime (ORC) Unit operating with Michigan State Police as the “FORCE” Team.
“Mr. Whitlow’s actions have caused long-term harm to his many victims who now must work to repair their stolen identities,” said Nessel. “Organized Retail Crime is a highly involved and orchestrated criminal enterprise that costs Michigan businesses and consumers millions of dollars each year. I’m grateful for the hard work and collaboration between our newly formed Organized Retail Crime Unit, and the Michigan State Police which helped bring this thief to justice.”
Attorney General Nessel encourages residents to visit the Department webpage to learn how to prevent identity theft. Support is available for people who have been victimized; residents should report identity theft as soon as they learn of it, and can request assistance from the Department’s Michigan Identity Theft Support team here.
The “FORCE” Team and the Organized Retail Crime Unit were established in January by the Attorney General to target criminal organizations that steal products from retailers to repackage and sell for a profit. Two assistant attorneys general serve the unit full time, working with special agents within the Department of Attorney General and Michigan State Police detectives to investigate and prosecute these crimes. This is a first-in-the-nation unit, unique in the 50 states as being the only such unit with embedded, dedicated staff from the Department of Attorney General.