Houston-area identity thief exposed on Local 2 now on probation

Thief's victim says everyone's financial information now at risk

By Amy Davis - Reporter/Consumer Expert

HOUSTON - A Houston-area identity thief first exposed on Local 2 last year is now on probation and the thief's victim says now everyone's financial information is at risk.

LaKeshia Cherry played dumb when police arrested her last year. She told consumer expert Amy Davis she had no idea what she was talking about when Davis asked her about stealing Social Security numbers from her employers.

At the time LaKeshia Cherry was working for CenterPoint Energy as a customer service rep. Before that she worked for Gexa Energy, Startex Power and Mega Energy, where police said she stole Andrea Cherry's Social Security number. Investigators said she used it to open an electric account at a home she was renting. Then she skipped on a $553 bill.

Andrea Cherry has spent the last 13 months trying to clean up her credit.

"The amount of time that's involved is just insurmountable," Andrea Cherry told Davis.

It's why she was disappointed when she learned the thief got just two years probation. LaKeisha Cherry was already convicted of identity theft in 2001 and possession of crack cocaine in 2002. This third conviction meant her sentence could have been more severe. Instead, she got basic community supervision with boilerplate prohibitions like banning her from going to bars and nightclubs.

"Why could they not have custom tailored something that said, 'You cannot work in the energy field? You can not have access to information that sensitive including social security numbers?'" asked her latest victim.

Judge Catherine Evans told Local 2 the prosecutor never asked for specific conditions and if they had, she would have considered them.

"I don't think anything was put in place that's going to prevent her from doing it in the future," said Andrea Cherry.

Neither LaKeshia Cherry nor her attorney returned our calls or emails. LaKeshia Cherry is required to look for work and that worries her latest victim.

"People do what they know," said Andrea Cherry. "And so all of her employment history indicates that she's always worked in the energy field."

A representative for the Harris County District Attorney's Office said there may have been an oversight. They told Davis the office will review the case. If changing the terms of probation is appropriate, the prosecutor will ask the judge to do that. We will follow up and let you know what happens.

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