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Gustave Ngandu Kalombo is the last of four men charged with an identity-theft ring to be sentenced in St. John's
The last of four men to be sentenced in relation to an identity theft operation was one of the main players — the “group tech” who owned the computer used in the ID theft of 24 people and the creation of fake documents with their personal information.
Gustave Ngandu Kalombo, 25, attended his sentencing in provincial court in St. John’s Wednesday afternoon via video from a court in Ottawa, where he lives.
At the end of the hearing, which was conducted almost entirely in French, Judge James Walsh accepted a joint submission from the Crown and defence and sentenced Kalombo to 175 days of house arrest on top of the 243 days of jail credit he has already earned.
“The role of Mr. Kalombo was integral to the organization,” prosecutor Richard Deveau said. “Without him, the plan wouldn’t have worked.”
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Kalombo, Toussaint Yenga-Yenga, Joseph Kalombo Ndonki and Doudou Kikewa Mpumudjie were charged two years ago in connection with an operation that saw the personal information of two dozen people from different provinces used to create fake driver's licences, social insurance cards and citizenship cards. Those cards, some of which bore the photos of two of the men charged, had been used to open bank accounts and acquire credit cards, apply for funds, open cellphone contracts and buy at least one airline ticket.
The RCMP began its investigation after receiving tips about suspicious packages — later found to contain fake IDs and pre-paid VISA debit cards — from staff at Purolator Courier in St. John's. The investigation ended with a stakeout outside the courier depot and the arrest of the four men on site. Between the four of them and the vehicle they had arrived in police seized cash, fake driver’s licences and nine new iPhones — all obtained using false documents.
A couple days later, police seized more fake licences, social insurance cards, Canadian citizenship cards and VISA debit cards, as well as multiple mobile phones, SIM cards, 52 boxes of perfume, and a boarding pass obtained under a fake ID. A MacBook in the apartment contained the personal information of more people and indications were that those people were going to be the next ID theft victims.
"... in a time when we use computers for everything from online banking to shopping to booking vacations, that there will be serious consequences for this type of crime.” — Richard Deveau
“It was clear that the plan wasn’t finished, at the point police had arrested (the accused),” Deveau said Wednesday. “It should be made clear, in a time when we use computers for everything from online banking to shopping to booking vacations, that there will be serious consequences for this type of crime.”
Kalombo, who pleaded guilty to charges of possessing identity documents belonging to other people and unlawfully obtaining other people’s IDs with the intent to commit a crime, deserved a sentence lower than the 22-month sentence ringleader Mpumdjie received, the prosecutor said, but higher than the eight months NDonki, deemed to have played the smallest role in the operation, got.
Defence lawyer Mary Boulos noted her client had no prior criminal record. She had asked him for a brief bio, she said, and read aloud what he had given her. In it, Kalombo spoke of having left his native Congo with his family as a refugee and coming to Canada. He has plans to change his life, he wrote, and is currently studying in a post-secondary administration program. His girlfriend is six months pregnant.
“Il veut être un bon papa (he wants to be a good dad),” Boulos read.
Walsh sentenced Kalombo to 175 days house arrest with an electronic monitoring bracelet, to be served in Ottawa with the co-operation of authorities there, followed by 18 months of probation during which he is banned from having contact with his co-accused as well as ID documents, cheques and cards with magnetic strips or microchips, unless they are legally issued in his name.