Steakhouse Data-Theft Leader Gets As Much as 13 1/2 Years

The leader of a ring of waiters who copied customer credit cards at New York steakhouses including Smith & Wollensky and the Capital Grille so accomplices could buy luxury goods was ordered to go to prison for as long as 13 1/2 years.

Luis “Damian” Jacas, 42, oversaw a network of servers at restaurants including Café Boulud and Wolfgang’s Steakhouse, prosecutors said. The thieves used handheld data-skimming devices to steal card numbers and gave them to Jacas, who had new cards forged and passed to those who bought goods and resold them, the government said.

The sentencing marks the fifth large-scale prosecution since the fall of 2011 by the cybercrime and ID theft bureau of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s office.

“Identity theft is a persistent and growing problem,” Vance said yesterday in a statement. The unit has found fraud at “fancy steakhouses, parking garages and even charities,” he said.

The office’s previous identity-fraud cases include one against seven people who allegedly used devices to skim credit card numbers from customers of parking garages, and one against Tracy Nelson, a former United Jewish Appeal-Federation employee sentenced in October for her role in a conspiracy that stole the identities of more than 200 people, including charity donors.

Jacas pleaded guilty in February to charges including enterprise corruption. The sentence imposed by Justice Michael J. Obus is 4 1/2 to 13 1/2 years, the district attorney said.

The Jacas case included the indictment of 29 people, many of whom pleaded guilty, prosecutors said. Crimes committed by Jacas and others began in April 2010 and involved at least 50 American Express account holders, prosecutors said.

10 ‘Shoppers’

Those charged included 10 “shoppers” who used forged credit cards and drivers’ licenses at Neiman Marcus, Cartier, Hermes of Paris, Burberry, Jimmy Choo and Starbucks, according to prosecutors.

Merchandise from outlets such as Chanel, Bloomingdale’s and Bergdorf Goodman, including $1 million worth of watches, was sold on outlets including the Internet.

Shopping trips were made in Manhattan, New York’s Westchester and Nassau counties, Florida, Boston and Chicago, according to the DA’s complaint. Some goods were sold to individuals, prosecutors said.

The case is People v. Jacas, 00042/2012, New York State Supreme Court, New York County (Manhattan).

To contact the reporter on this story: Tiffany Kary in New York at tkary@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Pickering at jpickering@bloomberg.net

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