States Attorney's Office District of Connecticut
|August 4, 2010||
HONG KONG CITIZEN CHARGED WITH MAIL THEFT, BANK FRAUD SCHEME
David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, Robert Bethel, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in New England, and Michael Lombardo, Chief of the Wilton Police Department, today announced that a federal grand jury sitting in Bridgeport has returned an indictment charging JOSEPH MO PUN LAU, 52, of Hong Kong, with four counts of bank fraud, three counts of theft of mail, and one count of illegally reentering the United States after having been deported. The charges stem from an alleged scheme to defraud four Connecticut banks in April 2010.
LAU has been detained since his arrest by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Wilton Police Department on July 9 in Rockville Centre, New York. An eight-count indictment was returned on July 27, and LAU is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow in Hartford.
The indictment alleges that LAU created a false key for a United States Postal depository in Wilton, Connecticut, and stole mail deposited there by 38 different residents of Wilton, Norwalk and Westport. LAU then removed 48 checks from the stolen mail and counterfeited them to conform to fictitious names under which he had opened bank accounts at Wachovia Bank, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and Citibank branches in Connecticut. LAU then cashed counterfeit checks in the total amount of more than $90,000 at the respective banks.
The indictment further alleges that LAU was deported from the United States in 2007 following a 2005 conviction in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania for bank fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, possession of United States mail keys, and theft of mail matter.
“I want to commend the United States Postal Inspection Service, the United States Secret Service, and the Wilton Police Department for their coordinated work in quickly identifying and apprehending this defendant,” stated U.S. Attorney Fein.
“I commend the cooperative law enforcement effort that was involved in investigating this matter and arresting this defendant,” stated Inspector in Charge Bethel. “For the past five years, public surveys have revealed that the U.S. Postal Service is the most trusted Government agency, and we are committed to investigating these crimes and protecting the integrity of both the U.S. Mail and U.S. Postal Service employees.”
“I am very pleased with the cooperation that we received from all of the agencies involved in this investigation,” stated Chief Lombardo. “This is just another indicator of the vast resources that we have available to investigate criminal activity. I am delighted that this defendant has been apprehended and that the prosecution of his alleged offenses will take place.”
If convicted, LAU faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 30 years on each of the bank fraud counts, five years on each of the theft of mail counts, and 10 years on the illegal reentry count.
U.S. Attorney Fein stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This matter is being investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service, the United States Secret Service, and the Wilton Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Rahul Kale.
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