According to an FBI press release dated May 29, 2013, a Newark man was sentenced to 46 months in prison for his role in a scheme to steal personal checks from the U.S. mail, fraudulently endorse them, and deposit them into personal checking accounts, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced. U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty imposed the sentence in Newark federal court.
Kurtis Steele, 27, pleaded guilty February 21, 2013, before Judge McNulty to a charge of one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.
Steele. with five other men and two women co-conspirators, one of which was a postal carrier, stole blank checks that were mailed to unsuspecting victims. Steele and his conspirators then fraudulently endorsed the blank checks for a certain sum and deposited those checks into legitimate bank accounts that they and unnamed conspirators opened at a number of banks, 46including TD Bank, Bank of America, Capital One Bank, Garden State Community Bank, Hudson City Savings Bank, PNC Bank, and Valley National Bank.
Before the victims or banks discovered the checks were fraudulent, Steele and his conspirators had withdrawn the funds, either via automated teller machine (ATM) or by entering the victim bank and filling out a withdrawal slip. U.S. Postal Inspection Service and FBI agents were able to obtain bank video surveillance that captured Steele making fraudulent deposits of the stolen checks and withdrawals of the proceeds of those checks. (FBI press release)
Steele and his conspirators deposited $1,478,695 in fraudulent checks stolen from 122 victims. The checks were deposited into 258 different bank accounts opened by the defendants and/or unnamed conspirators. Steele and conspirators’ scheme resulted in $648,194 in losses. (Ibid)
During his guilty plea hearing, Stelle admited he and his co-conspirators took the checks provided by the postal carrier, endorsed them for varying amounts under $5,000, and then deposited them into more than 250 legitimate accounts opened at TD Bank, Bank of America, Capital One Bank, Garden State Community Bank, Hudson City Savings Bank, PNC Bank and Valley National Bank, among others.
In addition to a prison term, Judge McNulty sentenced Steele to three years of supervised release. Restitution will be determined at a later date.
Several of Steele’s conspirators were previously sentenced for their role in the fraudulent scheme: Constance Bowles, 23, of Newark, was sentenced to six months in prison and six months in a halfway house; Garnet Hinton, 24, of Union, New Jersey, was sentenced to 23 months in prison; Keonnah McLean, 24, of Newark, was sentenced to 23 months in prison; and Martell Arline, 22, if Newark, was sentenced to 36 months in prison. In addition to the prison terms, each of them was sentenced to three years of supervised release.
Sources: FBI press release, Cliff View Pilot