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Braintree Man Charged with Theft of Mail, Credit Card Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft

BOSTON - A Braintree man was arrested and charged today in federal court with stealing Discover credit cards from the mail and then using the cards to withdraw cash.

Gerald K. Acholonu, 31, was charged in a criminal complaint with theft of mail, credit card fraud and aggravated identity theft.

The complaint alleges that between Aug. 2010 and May 2011, credit cards issued by Discover Financial Services destined for the Northeast had been stolen at some point between being mailed out of Utah and their expected processing at U.S. Postal Service mail-processing facilities in the Northeast. According to the complaint, during this period, Acholonu worked at a company that sorted U.S. mail by zip code between the mail’s unloading at Logan Airport and its transportation around New England by the Postal Service. In late April 2011, Acholonu was spotted leaving his employer’s restroom with a tray of U.S. mail. According to the complaint, investigators then searched the trash at his residence and found stolen Discover credit cards, along with other evidence that Acholonu was using or planning to use the Discover customers’ identities by setting up telephone accounts in their names. Investigators also obtained surveillance photographs from ATMs indicating that Acholonu had used some of the cards to withdraw money.

Following a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler, Acholonu was detained until the next hearing date to review his detention status, set for Dec. 29, 2011.

If convicted on these charges, Acholonu faces up to 22 years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, restitution and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gain or loss, whichever is highest.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and Robert Bethel, Inspector in Charge of the United States Postal Service made the announcement today. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Scott L. Garland and Eric Christofferson, respectively of Ortiz’s Cybercrimes and Major Crimes Units.

The details contained in the complaint are allegations. The defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.



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