Locksmith pleads guilty to ID theft, denied trip to Israel to care for ailing dad.
Joshua Burlin, who put a competitor’s locksmith business up for sale online, pleaded guilty to that felony identity theft in Dane County Circuit Court on Monday, then was denied permission to travel to Israel to care for his dying father while he awaits sentencing.
Judge Nicholas McNamara denied Burlin’s last-minute request after accepting the guilty plea on two felony charges from the co-owner of Madison Locksmith. Burlin had also pleaded guilty to lying in a deposition about placing false information in an Internet review. Four additional charges of false swearing were dismissed, but the charges are to be considered when the judge sentences Burlin in April. He faces up to six years in prison and a $10,000 fine on each count.
Burlin’s plan to return to Israel to help his mother care for his father surprised assistant attorney general Eric Defort. He said the plea agreement requests unspecified jail time for Burlin, who has dual citizenship in Israel and the United States.
His lawyer, John Schiro, told McNamara that if Burlin is not allowed to leave, “it is unlikely my client will ever see his father again.”
The charges against Burlin were detailed in May 2009 Wisconsin State Journal articles that tracked his company’s use of phony addresses to attract lockout victims to expensive emergency service, using false names to file negative comments about competitors and putting Capitol Lock and Security, a competitor, up for sale on the Internet.
Burlin co-owned Madison Locksmith, located at 825 E. Johnson St., with Shachar Elharar, of 301 Yellowstone Drive. They were named in a separate, civil lawsuit — also brought by the state Justice Department — with violating consumer protection laws by advertising phony business addresses, posting comments of fictitious consumers and telling customers they needed expensive lock replacements instead of repairs.
In interviews, Burlin explained that the use of multiple addresses and business names was part of his marketing strategy.
The pending civil charges seek unspecified restitution, forfeitures and costs.
Article attributed to GEORGE HESSELBERG | firstname.lastname@example.org and the Wisconsin State Journal
Additional information can be found at the Wisconsin Department of Justice -
Here is the criminal complaint -
Tom Lynch, CRL