Couple face federal charges in stolen ID case

Authorities say the suspects allegedly stole mail, opened phony bank accounts, and cashed bogus checks with the stolen data

A Grants Pass pair face federal charges for allegedly stealing mail from 400 victims in Jackson and Josephine counties and opening fraudulent bank accounts with the stolen information.

Gregory Stephen Brooks, 49, and Michelle Renee Lustig, 44, are charged with felony counts of conspiracy to commit mail theft, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft, according to the Oregon U.S. Attorney's Office.

The charges involve the theft of mail from approximately 400 victims between March and July 2013.

According to the federal indictment, Brooks and Lustig used personal information gathered from stolen mail to open bank accounts and attain debit cards. They then made cash withdrawals, sometimes up to $675, according to the indictment.

In addition, Lustig used check-making software to print counterfeit checks using the victims' information.

The two also withdrew cash from various ATMs throughout Grants Pass, officials said.

Brooks was arraigned on the charges before Federal Magistrate Judge Mark Clarke in Medford's U.S. District Court. His trial is set for Nov. 19.

If convicted, the pair could face five to 30 years in prison, with mandatory minimum sentences of two years for aggravated identity theft convictions, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

A warrant has been issued for Lustig's arrest. The U.S. Attorney's Office is asking anyone who has information about her whereabouts to contact Grants Pass police or their nearest law enforcement agency.

The U.S. Attorney's Office is working with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety and the Jackson County Sheriff's Department in the investigation and prosecution of the case.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or

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