States Attorney's Office District of Connecticut
|March 24, 2011||
Connecticut Financial Crimes Task Force:
David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that a federal grand jury sitting in New Haven has returned a superseding indictment charging ION CONSTANTINE, also known as “Tarzan,” 33, of Glendale, New York, and three other New York residents with offenses related to their alleged participation in an ATM “skimming” scheme.
On May 12, 2010, a grand jury returned an indictment charging SABRINA MATACHE, 22, of Middle Village, New York; LAURA STIUCA, 32, a citizen of Romania residing in Maspeth, New York, and NADIA PASICI, 49, a citizen of Romania residing in Middle Village, with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud stemming from the alleged scheme. The indictment also charged MATACHE and STIUCA with four counts of bank fraud and four counts of aggravated identity theft. These charges are maintained in the superseding indictment, which adds CONSTANTINE as a defendant and charges him with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, four counts of bank fraud and four counts of aggravated identity theft.
The superseding indictment was returned on March 22, and CONSTANTINE was arrested yesterday, March 23. Today, he appeared before United States Magistrate Judge Holly B. Fitzsimmons in Bridgeport, entered a plea of not guilty to the charges and was detained pending a detention hearing that is scheduled for March 30 at 11:30 a.m.
The superseding indictment alleges that CONSTANTINE, MATACHE, STIUCA, PASICI and others, conspired to install “skimming” devices on automated teller machines (“ATMs”), and on card swipe access devices used by banks to control access to ATM lobby doors, at People’s United Bank locations in Connecticut. The devices were able to capture the information encoded on the magnetic strips of bank cards used by ATM customers. The indictment further alleges that the co-conspirators placed devices on the ATMs that contained hidden pinhole cameras, which were positioned in such a way as to be able to record the personal identification numbers that bank customers keyed into the ATMs to gain access to their accounts. The co-conspirators are alleged to have used this stolen information to create counterfeit bank cards that allowed them to withdraw funds from the customers’ accounts.
The superseding indictment alleges that, in March 2010, CONSTANTIN directed MATACHE and STIUCA to use a pin-capturing device at an ATM located at a branch of People’s United Bank in Cos Cob, Connecticut. At various times in March and April 2010, MATACHE, STIUCA and PASICI used the pin-capturing device at the bank branch. The superseding indictment further alleges that, between April 19 and April 22, MATACHE and STIUCA used stolen bank account information to conduct unauthorized ATM withdrawals from People’s United Bank ATMs in Stamford, Greenwich and Darien, Connecticut.
MATACHE, STIUCA and PASICI were arrested by members of the Connecticut Financial Crimes Task Force on April 22, 2010, at a branch of People’s United Bank in Darien. At the time of the arrests, the three defendants allegedly possessed cash, several re-encoded gift cards containing stolen bank account information, handwritten notes with lists of stolen four-digit personal identification numbers, ATM skimming tools and other items used in the conspiracy.
The charges of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and bank fraud carry a maximum term of imprisonment of 30 years and a fine of up to $1 million, on each count. The charge of aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory term of imprisonment of two years, which must be imposed consecutively to a sentence imposed on any other count of conviction.
U.S. Attorney Fein stressed that an indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Each defendant is entitled to a fair trial at which it is the Government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
This investigation has been conducted by the Connecticut Financial Crimes Task Force, which includes members of the United States Secret Service; the United States Postal Inspection Service; the United States Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security; the Connecticut State Police; and the Glastonbury, Greenwich, Hartford, New Haven and Shelton Police Departments. U.S. Attorney Fein specifically recognized the efforts of the Spanish National Police; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s Office of Fraud Detection and National Security for their assistance in the investigation and prosecution of this matter. People’s United Bank assisted the investigation.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Douglas P. Morabito and Susan L. Wines.
U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE
Department of Justice
Project Safe Neighborhoods