News Flash

Police Department News - 2019

Posted on: December 12, 2019

ACCPD Obtains 15 Warrants for Felony Lane Gang Member

On December 9th , ACCPD obtained 15 arrest warrants for Emma Patrice McIlwain, 28 years old from Punta Gorda, Florida, for her involvement in Felony Lane Gang crimes in Athens, Georgia, in late October, 2019.

McIlwain is part of a large Felony Lane Gang, whose name stems from the location they prefer to commit fraudulent transactions – a bank’s drive-thru lane farthest from the teller – dubbed the “felony lane” by law enforcement. In order to commit the fraudulent transactions, the gang commits other crimes such as entering autos, identity theft/fraud, and forgeries.

ACCPD Detective Nathaniel Franco determined that members of the Felony Lane Gang visited Athens in September, 2019. McIlwain’s associates stole credit cards, checks, and identity documents from a victim’s car in Ben Burton Park on September 17, 2019. (Incident Number: 2019- 09170193) Det. Franco confirmed that McIlwain used these stolen documents to withdraw almost $22,000 from banks in Winder, Watkinsville, and Athens (including the victim’s bank account), on October 25, 2019. (Incident Number: 2019-10250155)

In a related incident, a Felony Gang member used identity documents stolen from a parked car in Southeast Clarke Park on September 17, 2019, in fraudulent transactions in Charleston, SC. (Incident Number: 2019-09170204)

McIlwain was arrested in Butte, Montana, in November, 2019, while possessing stolen identity information and forged checks in unrelated cases. She is currently being held in Montana on those offenses.

Det. Franco identified and linked McIlwain to the Athens’ incidents with assistance from the FBI and detectives from the Butte-Silver Bow Law Enforcement Department in Butte, Montana.

In Athens-Clarke County, McIlwain is facing 14 Felony Charges and 1 Misdemeanor Charge including Identity Fraud, Forgery in the First Degree, Felony Theft by Deception, Criminal Attempt to Commit Theft by Deception, Financial Transaction Card Theft, and Theft by Receiving Stolen Property.

According to Det. Franco, Felony Lane Gangs have targeted Athens several times over the last year. These gangs select parks, daycares, gyms, and other public places where purses or wallets are left in vehicles. A gang member breaks the vehicle window, grabs a purse or wallet, and then leaves the area in a rented car, frequently with a stolen tag.

“These gangs operate in broad daylight and wait for individuals to leave their vehicle to pick up children, take a walk, or workout,” said Detective Franco, who has been with the ACCPD for over 11 years. “It is important to always remove valuable items from your vehicle. If you are a victim, you should contact the ACCPD but also remember to reach out to your bank and credit card companies, as well as keep a close eye on your accounts to prevent fraudulent transactions.”

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