PROVO — A Pleasant Grove woman accused of working with her boyfriend to steal his adopted daughter's identity faces criminal charges.
Gypsy Willis, 33, was charged Wednesday in 4th District Court with one count of identity fraud, two counts of false and inconsistent material statements and one count of wrongful lien.
Willis is serving a 21-month sentence in a Texas prison after being indicted on 11 different counts in federal court in January, including misuse of a Social Security card. She pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated identity theft and was to begin serving her time before Oct. 15. Willis was arrested a month earlier when prosecutors say she tried to flee to Mexico.
Willis had been dating Martin MacNeill for at least three years before she and MacNeill began altering her identity immediately following the death of MacNeill's wife in April 2007, according to a statement from the Utah County Attorney's Office. They obtained false ID cards and opened several bank accounts under false identifications.
Utah County authorities have compared MacNeill's life to the movie "Catch Me If You Can."
In August, the Pleasant Grove doctor and lawyer was sentenced to four years in federal prison after pleading guilty to two counts of aiding and abetting in aggravated identity theft. In September, he pleaded guilty to three felonies of making false and inconsistent statements, insurance fraud and forgery and was ordered to serve three years in jail.
When MacNeill's wife passed away, the house had been in her name, said Doug Witney, the lead investigator in the case. He said MacNeill had not wanted to go through probate or pay taxes, so instead acted as his deceased wife's attorney, pretended she was still alive and had the property transferred to his name.
The same day the transaction went through, Witney said, Willis filed a $1 million lien on the house, which is illegal because there was no reason to file the lien. Witney said it was probably done to discourage MacNeill's children from claiming rights to the house because one of his daughters was trying to obtain custody of her three adopted younger sisters at the time.
When the federal government realized what was going on, it had an agent act as an intended buyer of the house and a few days after Willis went to remove the lien, she and MacNeill were arrested.
Witney said Willis acquired a birth certificate, Social Security card, Utah identification card and military identification card using MacNeill's adopted daughter's name. MacNeill earlier returned his daughter to Ukraine and had no plans to bring her back, family members say. Willis admitted in an interview she typed up the supporting false documents, Witney said.
"She was an integral part of this," he said. "She was not an innocent bystander."