SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Niesha Nicole Jackson, 35, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Kimberly Mueller to 15 years and seven months in prison for bank fraud and failure to appear for sentencing, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced. Jackson had failed to appear for sentencing on the bank fraud conviction in 2011 and had been living as a fugitive until April 2014.
On July 30, 2009, a federal grand jury indicted Jackson on one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of bank fraud. According to court documents, Jackson was part of a credit card scheme that netted over one million dollars in losses to 37 banks in 2007 and 2008. Operating from California, the scheme’s organizers sent runners to Alabama, Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Montana, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Texas to use prepaid credit cards at banks for cash advances. Although the cards only had small amounts of money available, the runners would tell the bank tellers to call a toll-free number that was controlled by Jackson or another co-conspirator. Jackson, posing as a card services representative, would mislead the bank employee into believing that there were thousands of dollars available on the card, and then would instruct the teller what buttons to press on the card terminal in order to make the transaction go through. After receiving the cash, the runner would keep a portion, and the rest of the fraudulently obtained funds would go to the organizers in the Sacramento area. Jackson pleaded guilty in March 2010, but then failed to appear at her sentencing.
While she was a fugitive, Jackson was featured on CNBC’s program “American Greed: The Fugitives” and labeled as the “Bank Robbing Babe.” In April 2014, after receiving information that Jackson was in Fairfield, the Pacific Southwest Regional Fugitive Task Force, composed of U.S. Marshals and state and local agencies, set up surveillance and arrested her at a hotel. When Jackson was arrested, she had in her possession jewelry, a Cartier wristwatch, five pairs of luxury-brand shoes, 27 luxury-brand purses, and a T-shirt with “BR Babe” printed on it.
At sentencing today, Jackson addressed the Court and said that she had panicked on the day of her sentencing, and while on the run, she knew that one day it “would all come to an end.” Judge Mueller commented that in 2011, she had been inclined to impose a 10‑year sentence on Jackson, but that today, a longer sentence was necessary to send a message to defendants who might think about absconding. The judge said that even if Jackson had panicked on the day of sentencing, “she had plenty of time to think about it.” Thus, the Court imposed an increased sentence of 12 and a half years for the bank fraud and an additional, consecutive three years and one month for the charge of failure to appear.
This case was the product of an investigation by the U.S. Secret Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation with assistance from police and sheriff’s departments in several states. Seven other defendants have previously been convicted and sentenced for their roles in the conspiracy. Assistant United States Attorney Matthew D. Segal prosecuted the case.