Man to serve five years for role in thefts

Police say network of cross-dressers stole from distracted clerks

September 23, 2001|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

A man accused of being part of a loose network of cross-dressing thieves has received no additional prison time for his part in a series of Anne Arundel County thefts, a sentence prosecutors say reflects his limited role and his cooperation with authorities.

Lamar Olandau Hammonds, 32, of Suitland was sentenced Friday to 15 years in prison, with all but five years suspended, for three felony theft pleas in July. Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Clayton Greene Jr. also ordered him to serve five years of probation and repay an undetermined sum to victimized people and credit-card companies.

The sentence will run concurrently with two identical ones from judges in Calvert and Worcester counties on similar charges there.

Hammonds is the first of three defendants to come to court in Anne Arundel in what police say was a rash of thefts last year in which several men and women, all dressed as women, took credit cards, wallets and checkbooks from distracted victims and used them to go on shopping sprees.

They are suspected of being part of a network of thieves, mostly cross-dressers, around the state responsible for more than two dozen thefts - and perhaps linked to a broader East Coast network organized like sororities.

Hammonds, nicknamed "Revlon," is suspected of being part of the House of Revlon branch of the network. Lamont Edward Fleming, 23, of Suitland and his sister, LaTrenda Dinote Fleming, 27, of Upper Marlboro, both of whom are scheduled for trial this week in Anne Arundel County, are suspected of being part of the House of Khan, police said.

Detective Tracy Morgan said the defendants targeted small businesses, including several dry cleaners, distracting what was often a lone clerk and taking items from the clerk's purse and cash drawer.

"They're kind of good at what they do," she said, describing a scenario in which two people distracted the clerk while a third rifled through the clerk's purse.

They used stolen checks and credit cards to buy items including Chinese food, an oak dining room set, jewelry, clothes and tattoos, police and prosecutors said.

With credit-card receipts still being checked, exactly how much of other people's money was spent is unknown, but Assistant State's Attorney Clifford Stoddard Jr. said it was at least $10,000 to $12,000 from Anne Arundel County thefts alone.

At least 17 businesses in Anne Arundel County were victimized, and at least five clerks in Annapolis shops.

At the request of Don Edward Ansell, Hammonds' lawyer, and Stoddard, Greene asked state corrections officials to evaluate Hammonds for Patuxent Institution, a psychiatric treatment center. Stoddard said Hammonds wanted gender-identification counseling.

Hammonds said nothing at the brief sentencing Friday.

A fourth person, who has not been identified, is being sought in the case. As many as six or seven people might have been involved in Anne Arundel and nearby counties.

Experienced thieves trained newcomers, appearing with them in surveillance videotapes, police said.

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