ID theft linked to gambling addiction lands soldier in jail
By ERIK SLAVIN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 19, 2008
CAMP CASEY, South Korea — When the money ran out for Pfc. Daniel Yoon, he walked into Community Bank and became fellow soldier Pfc. Jin Y. Kim.
He walked out with a $1,000 personal loan to feed his gambling habit.
On Thursday, Yoon pleaded guilty to nine charges related to stealing money and was sentenced to 15 months in confinement, reduction in rank to E-1 and a bad-conduct discharge.
Yoon has spent the past 142 days in confinement because he is considered a flight risk. Yoon also alluded to owing money to Korean underworld figures, and the military is worried about his safety, a command official said following the trial.
Kim told the court that after the theft, he couldn’t afford a haircut and couldn’t get more than a $20 loan because Yoon ruined his financial record.
Yoon also stole Kim’s checkbook and asked to borrow money from him, even while he was taking out loans in Kim’s name.
Between September and November, Yoon used Kim’s Social Security number and his Defense Department identification card to get the Community Bank loan, a $500 loan from USA Federal Credit Union and a $2,000 online loan from Pioneer Military Lending.
Yoon also stole Pfc. Anthony Emanuele’s checkbook from his barracks.
“Every day for the past 142 days, I’ve despised myself for causing them duress,” Yoon said.
Area I support psychiatrist Capt. Christopher Perry diagnosed Yoon with a pathological gambling disorder during the investigation, according to court documents.
Yoon’s crime spree extended to his own finances.
In July, Yoon deposited empty envelopes in one ATM, then entered them as deposits on the keypad. He then withdrew the money he claimed to have deposited and used it for gambling.
On Nov. 26, Yoon deposited 54 blank envelopes into the Dragon Hill Lodge Community Bank ATM. On the keypad, he entered each envelope as a $100 deposit.
He then went inside to withdraw $5,000; however, the teller caught on to the scam and Yoon was sent away without the money.
In October and November, Yoon wrote 12 checks for cash ranging from $350 to $950 on his own accounts, knowing he didn’t have the funds to cover them.
In the end, however, it may have been a Big Mac and fries that brought down Yoon.
Shortly after the attempted Community Bank scam, he tried to use his Korean uncle’s credit card at a Seoul McDonald’s. The card registered as stolen, according to a military official.
He talked South Korean police out of arresting him then, but later turned himself in.
Prosecutor Capt. Michael Sweetman had asked for a 24-month sentence from military Judge Col. Donna Wright, though a pretrial agreement limited the sentence to 15 months.
“This type of conniving behavior takes some thought, and it takes some preparation,” Sweetman said.
Yoon, who scored an extremely high 124 on his Army General Technical Test, said he joined the Army to straighten himself out after battling gambling problems and later volunteering at a youth ministry in California.
“I hoped the military would instill in me the discipline I would need to control my [gambling] addictions,” Yoon said.