States Attorney's Office District of Connecticut
|July 1, 2010||
THREE FLORIDA RESIDENTS CHARGED WITH OPERATING MULTI-STATE BANK FRAUD SCHEME
David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that a federal grand jury sitting in Hartford has returned a 74-count indictment charging SHEIKERA WILLIAMS, 27, of Aventura, Florida; MICHAEL JOHNSON, 30, of Miami Gardens, Florida, and JERMAINE JONES, 30, of West Palm Beach, Florida, with bank fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft offenses.
The indictment alleges that, from February 2008 through June 2010, the defendants schemed to defraud federally insured banks and credit unions across the country, including several in Connecticut. As part of the scheme, JOHNSON and JONES committed thefts of individuals’ identifications, checks, debit cards, and credit cards from various victims, usually through the commission of car burglaries. JOHNSON and JONES allegedly targeted automobiles left in the parking lots at gymnasiums, parks, athletic fields, and other places where they believed women would leave purses unattended inside vehicles.
It is alleged that JOHNSON and JONES then provided stolen cards, checks and identifications to WILLIAMS. WILLIAMS filled out and provided the stolen checks, along with stolen identification and bank cards, to “cashers,” who typically were women with substance abuse problems who had been recruited by members of the conspiracy. WILLIAMS also provided cashers with wigs, hats, sunglasses, and other items to disguise their appearances and to prevent bank tellers from recognizing that the casher was not the legitimate account holder. The casher was provided with a rented car and was instructed to approach the bank via the farthest drive-through teller window, in order to prevent the bank teller from effectively comparing a photo identification with the casher.
The indictment alleges that the cashers negotiated checks at the victim banks and credit unions where a theft victims had an account. WILLIAMS would provide the casher with one or more checks that she had made out to the individual on the stolen identification card. The check would be drawn on an account of a different victim and drawn from a bank other than the one the casher approached. If a transaction was approved, the casher would give the money to the defendants and receive a share of the funds.
The indictment was returned on April 1, 2010, and was unsealed on June 29 following the arraignments of JONES and JOHNSON. Each is detained pending trial. WILLIAMS was arraigned on June 22 and is released on bond with electronic monitoring.
Each of the defendants is charged with 70 counts of bank fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, which carry a maximum term of imprisonment of 30 years and fine of up to $1,000,000, on each count. Each defendant also is charged with three counts of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory consecutive term of imprisonment of two years, on each count.
U.S. Attorney Fein stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. The charges are only allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This matter is being investigated by the United States Secret Service and the West Hartford Police Department. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David E. Novick.
U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE
Department of Justice
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