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New Jersey man gets 4 years in identity theft scheme planned in Massachusetts jail

A New Jersey man received a four-year prison sentence on Thursday in federal court in Boston for his role in a multiple state identity theft scheme that netted him and an accomplice about $570,000, authorities said.

Bryan Wells, 28, had pleaded guilty last year to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft charges.

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His federal public defender could not be reached for comment on the sentencing.

Authorities said in court papers that Wells and another man, Shawn Robert Pelley, met while incarcerated together and planned the scheme over phone lines at the Nashua Street Jail in Boston after Wells was released.

According to an affidavit filed in the case, the men conducted their scheme between January and August of 2010. At Pelley’s direction, Wells used fraudulent documents to transfer funds from victims’ financial accounts to accounts that the men controlled, authorities said.

The men fleeced at least 10 people and businesses, according to court records.

Wells obtained driver’s licenses in the names of victims and traveled to Massachusetts, Florida, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Vermont to execute the scheme, according to prosecutors.

Wells even set up a conference call between Pelley and the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, so Pelley could inquire about obtaining a copy of one victim’s license, the affidavit stated. The registry later mailed an emergency copy of the man’s license to Wells in Florida.

Sara Lavoie, a spokeswoman for state Department of Transportation, which oversees the registry, said the license was mailed as part of a service called “instant issue,” intended for people who have lost their licenses and are about to travel or may have already traveled domestically.

She said the registry no longer mails emergency licenses to a requested location, but instead sends them to home addresses on file with the agency, or requires that they be picked up in person.

The affidavit included a transcript of one conversation between Pelley and Wells, in which they discussed a victim.

“He pays $42,000 a month in child support,” Pelley told Wells, according to the transcript. “What does [that] tell you?”

Wells said, “He has megabucks.”

Pelley, 36, pleaded guilty to related charges in September and received a prison sentence of just under 9½ years. Authorities said he has a lengthy criminal record that includes prior identity theft and fraud offenses.

In one court filing, prosecutors even likened Pelley to a notorious 17th-century French writer.

“With Pelley as Wells’s Cyrano de Bergerac, Wells went about his business, doing what Pelley told him, with nobody the wiser,” Assistant US Attorney Scott L. Garland wrote.

Garland said that Wells has a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, and prior convictions for stealing credit cards and conspiring to distribute marijuana and ecstasy.

He was ordered as part of his sentencing in the identity theft case to pay $338,327 in restitution, records show.

Travis Andersen can be reached at tandersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.

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