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N.M. Man Accused of Having Missing Los Alamos Badges, Operating Mobile ID Theft Ring

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (AP) -- An Albuquerque man has been accused of illegally possessing identification badges from the U.S. Department of Energy and Los Alamos National Laboratory that had been stolen from a home and cars of DOE employees and lab scientists.

A federal grand jury last month indicted Brandon Kerby, 30, on seven charges, including possessing government identification, carjacking, brandishing a firearm during a carjacking and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Rosemarie J. Peterson, a special agent with the DOE's Office of Inspector General, said in court documents that Kerby was questioned by the FBI. She said he admitted to breaking into vehicles and taking identification badges from Los Alamos scientists "although he never considered trying to 'get in Los Alamos laboratories."'

Authorities allege three badges were stolen from cars and one was stolen during a home burglary between May 12 and May 18, 2003.

The badges turned up in Greenwood Village, Colo., that month when Greenwood Village police were investigating a vehicle reportedly stolen that was located at a hotel. Kerby is not accused of stealing that vehicle, his attorney said.

Police allege they found three men, including Kerby, operating a mobile identity theft office out of a hotel room. They said they found four government identification badges -- two belonging to DOE employees and two belonging to Los Alamos employees; more than 15 stolen credit cards; driver's licenses and other forms of identification from New Mexico, Colorado and Texas; motor vehicle titles; a handgun stolen from a Customs agent; two other stolen vehicles; and computer equipment.

Kerby's attorney, Hank Farrah of Albuquerque, said he could not comment on the case. However, he said a scheduled Aug. 14 federal trial date in Albuquerque for Kerby probably would be continued.

Kerby is jailed in Torrance County east of Albuquerque.

A spokeswoman for the DOE Inspector General in Washington, D.C., Wilma Slaughter, had no comment because the case remains under investigation.

Lab spokesman Kevin Roark said badges are stolen occasionally, most often from employees' cars. When someone reports a stolen badge, the lab's security division deactivates it so its magnetic strip does not work.

"So if anybody tries to use it, it will show up in the databases, but it won't allow anyone access or anything," Roark said.

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