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Conspirator Sentenced to 4 Years in Prison in $320,000 Bank Fraud Scheme

July 23, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


CONSPIRATOR SENTENCED TO 4 YEARS IN PRISON IN $320,000 BANK FRAUD SCHEME

Greenbelt, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams Jr. sentenced Kodjo Kakra Duncan, age 39, of Capitol Heights, Maryland today to four years in prison followed by five years of supervised release for bank fraud conspiracy, two counts of bank fraud and aggravated identity theft in connection with a scheme in which the conspirators created checks and stole money using misappropriated bank account information to obtain at least $320,000. Judge Williams also ordered Duncan to pay restitution of $175,632.67.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Acting Postal Inspector in Charge Peter R. Rendina of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service - Washington Division; and Special Agent in Charge David Beach of the United States Secret Service – Washington Field Office.

“Today’s sentencing demonstrates that Postal Inspectors will vigorously pursue and bring to justice individuals who use the U.S. mail in the furtherance of criminal activities against financial institutions and citizens,” said Acting Inspector in Charge Peter R. Rendina, U.S. Postal Inspection Service - Washington Division. “We are grateful for the U.S. Secret Service agents’ support with this case.”

According to his plea agreement, from June 2010 to February 2011, Duncan and other conspirators opened bank accounts in their own names, in false names, in the name of a spouse and in the names of shell corporations they controlled. Co-defendant Nathan Silla and other conspirators obtained checks from victim individuals and corporations and altered the names on the checks. The conspirators also created counterfeit checks, using the misappropriated names and bank account numbers. Duncan and his conspirators then either deposited the altered and counterfeit checks into accounts they controlled, or presented the checks for cash, at banks in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties and Washington, D.C.

The conspirators paid Duncan a portion of the value of at least 12 fraudulent checks to deposit and cash these checks. Additionally, in order to cash the checks, Duncan used a counterfeit Maryland driver’s license in the name of a victim.

The total loss caused by Duncan is between $200,000 and $400,000 and involved between 10 and 50 victims.

All five defendants have pleaded guilty to their participation in the scheme, including the ringleader, Nathan A. Silla, age 39, of Glenn Dale, Maryland, who pleaded guilty after two days of trial. Silla is scheduled to be sentenced on August 13, 2012 at 2:00 p.m. Duncan’s brother, Kodjo Panyin Duncan, age 39, of Lanham, Maryland, was sentenced to 45 months in prison and ordered to pay $114,900 in restitution. Stephen L. Wise, age 23, of Washington D.C. was sentenced to 37 months in prison, and ordered to pay $58,974.61 in restitution. Caleb K. Otsibah, age 38, of Lanham, is scheduled to be sentenced on July 27, 2012.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and U.S. Secret Service for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Christen A. Sproule, who prosecuted the case.


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