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Grand Jury Indicts Bank Employee and Associates in Alleged Scheme to Cash Fraudulent Checks

July 28, 2010

Rock Island, Ill. – A grand jury today charged a Moline, Illinois man and two associates with defrauding a local bank by using customer information to prepare three fraudulent checks valued at $27,000. The indictment charges Miguel Angel Cruz, 23, of the 3900 block of 26th Street, Moline, who, according to the indictment, was employed as a teller at The National Bank in Moline and East Moline; Edgar Gutierrez, 20, of the same address; and, Augustine Martinez, a.k.a. “Tito,” 21, of the 1300 block of 11th Avenue, East Moline.

The three defendants were previously charged in a federal criminal complaint filed on July 21. Following court appearances on July 23 and 26, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas J. Shields, the men were released on bond.

The indictment alleges that in June 2010, Cruz used his position as a bank teller to obtain access to bank customers’ account information and to create unauthorized ‘counter’ checks drawn on some of the customer’s accounts. Cruz and Gutierrez allegedly approached Martinez and asked him to cash the fraudulent checks at various branches of The National Bank.

According to the indictment, Cruz provided Gutierrez with three forged and fraudulent ‘counter’ checks. Gutierrez allegedly used information provided by Cruz to complete the checks, including account holders’ names, a fictitious payee name assumed by Martinez, and the check amount of $9,000. Gutierrez also allegedly forged the account holder’s signatures and provided Martinez with a fraudulent Illinois identification card in the fictitious payee’s name. On June 30, Cruz allegedly loaned his vehicle to Gutierrez to drive Martinez to pre-determined bank branches to cash the checks.

The indictment alleges that two fraudulent checks, each in the amount of $9,000, were cashed at bank branch locations in Bettendorf and Davenport, Iowa, on June 30. Gutierrez then allegedly drove Martinez to a third branch location in East Moline, where Cruz was working that day. Martinez allegedly attempted to cash a third fraudulent check, also for $9,000, but when the teller became suspicious, Martinez left the bank.

The charges were investigated by the U.S. Secret Service, Moline Police Department and the East Moline Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John K. Mehochko.

If convicted, the offense of bank fraud carries a maximum statutory penalty of 30 years in prison and fines of up to $1,000,000. For conspiracy to make or pass a forged security, the penalty is up to five years in prison; for making or passing a forged security, the penalty is up to 10 years in prison.

Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

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