William Hasson seemed to have a good time vacationing in the summer of 2012. He went to Six Flags Great America in Chicago with a friend and sipped drinks while listening to jazz at Merriweather Post Pavilion.
Like many vacationers, Hasson, 55, a general manager at a Checkers fast-food restaurant in Northeast Washington, posted photos of his fun times on his Facebook page.
That’s partly how authorities caught him. Authorities said Hasson paid for his trips by opening credit cards in the name of one of his employees — racking up more than $4,600 in charges. He did it, they said, by pulling the worker’s Social Security number and other details from a personnel file.
Hasson pleaded guilty in March to first-degree identity fraud. On Wednesday in D.C. Superior Court, a judge sentenced him to 10 months in jail.
At the hearing, prosecutors said Hasson, who has a criminal record dating to 1987 with charges in Virginia, Maryland and Connecticut, has made a career out of stealing. He has been in and out of jail for theft and identify theft and most recently spent six years in prison for credit card theft in Prince William County. Hasson was released in 2010, just 10 months before he began stealing from the worker at Checkers.
“This is how he lived his life for decades,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Miller said.
In addition to images from the jazz festival and Six Flags, Hasson also posted photos on his Facebook page of a shopping trip to the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Country Club Hills, Ill., prosecutors said. Hasson had opened an account at that Wal-Mart in his employee’s name, according to court papers. And prosecutors said he opened up a credit card account for his niece with his worker’s information.
Hasson had the credit card statements sent to his home, Miller said. More than a year had passed as Hasson went on his trips and charged dinners at restaurants and shopping sprees before bill collectors began calling Sampy Mutamba, the employee.
Investigators were able to link the dates and locations of credit card purchases to the dates of Hasson’s Facebook posts.
Miller said that because less than $5,000 was stolen and because Hasson pleaded guilty quickly, prosecutors agreed not to ask for more than 10 months, although he faced a maximum term of about two years.
Mutamba, who moved to the United States six years ago from Congo, said Hasson had opened 16 accounts in his name.
“He messed up my credit, and I am still working on trying to clear everything up. I can’t get an apartment. I can’t buy a house, all because of him,” Mutamba, 26, said.
In court, Hasson apologized to Mutamba and said that at the time of the theft he was struggling financially because of child support. Hasson’s attorney, Teresa Kleiman, asked that her client undergo a psychiatric evaluation and counseling while in prison.
Judge Robert Richter ordered the counseling but added that he remained puzzled by two things: Why Hasson would spend 20 years stealing. And how employers continued to hire him despite his lengthy criminal record.
“This is the kind of thing the City Council should see before making rules that employers can’t inquire about prior convictions,” he said. Last month, the D.C. Council approved legislation that would ban employers from asking job applicants if they have been arrested or convicted of a crime until after an initial job offer is extended.
Until his sentencing, Hasson was employed by Checkers as a regional training manager, Hasson and Miller confirmed.
Meanwhile, Mutamba said he has placed restrictions on his credit profile that would send notifications whenever an inquiry or credit card application is made. He said he regularly checks his credit history, something he did not do before.
Miller told the judge she is looking into the possibility there could be another victim. She said another employee at the same Checkers, on 1401 Maryland Ave. NE, has reported $16,000 in fraudulent credit card purchases. Hasson and his attorney said they were not aware of the allegations.