Police: Gang link to crimes

MILFORD – Bail for a California woman with alleged ties to a nationwide crime organization was kept at $250,000 cash during her video arraignment in Milford district court on Monday morning. The woman, who goes by the single name of "Mim," was arrested April 15 after police said she tried to cash a stolen check at the TD Bank on South Street. Acting Milford prosecutor Karinne Brobst told the court that Mim is part of a criminal organization called the Felony Lane Gang whose mode of operation is to smash out car windows and steal identification and credit cards.

Mim was driving a rental car out of Florida that was not rented to her, with a license plate that was stolen from a Milford resident, Brobst said. Police found a number of wigs in her car, along with items stolen from other states. Mim’s only identification was an allegedly forged passport, said the prosecutor, who called her a danger to the community and a flight risk. Mim is charged with two felonies – identify fraud (Class A) and forgery (Class B). She is charged with trying to cash a $2,475 check at the Milford bank. Both charges are beyond the jurisdiction of the district court, and Judge Martha Crocker scheduled her for a probable cause hearing in superior court on May 2. The 45-year-old San Diego woman pled not guilty Monday to eight other charges and told the court her passport was not forged.

The Felony Lane Gang is said to operate out of southern Florida and to use drug addicts and prostitutes to target cars parked in places women frequent – including fitness centers, supermarkets and day care centers – to either find unlocked cars or to "smash and grab" pocketbooks from locked cars.

Employees of the TD Bank called Milford police on Friday afternoon, reporting that a woman was trying to cash a stolen check. Although the suspect left the bank by the time police arrived, police said the employees were able to provide sufficient identifying information to allow them to find the suspect.

Police said they tracked down a 2016 Chevrolet Traverse that Mim was operating, rented out of Pompano Beach, Fla., that had stolen license plates. A search of the car turned up large sums of cash, numerous wigs, makeup and other items to disguise identity, police said.

Brobst said the criminal behavior has been going on for months. She charged that Mim stole a license plate from a Milford resident, using it to cover the Florida plates, and stole a credit card from the same victim and a debit card from another woman.

Other charges facing Mim are six counts of receiving stolen property, which are Class A misdemeanors, and one count each of driving after suspension and misuse of plates, both violationlevel offenses.

Named the Felony Lane Gang because they tend to use bank drive-thru lanes that are farthest from the tellers, the organization appears to have been operating for several years, according to news reports. Members were suspected of being involved in crimes in Metro-West and South Shore Massachusetts cities and towns, as well as in Salem, N.H. Kimberly Phillips, 30, who police said is an Amherst native and possibly a Felony Gang member, was arrested in Weston, Mass., in March. Police accused her of charging $6,500 worth of checks from a Weston resident.

The U.S. Department of Justice has labeled the gang’s activities "a conspiracy" that has netted more than $1 million from victims along the East Coast, according to a story in the Boston Herald.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.