Leader in Bank Fraud Scheme Pleads Guilty After Two Days of Trial

April 26, 2012

Greenbelt, Maryland - After two days of trial, Nathan A. Silla, age 38, of Glenn Dale, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to charges related to a bank fraud conspiracy in which he and his co-conspirators created counterfeit checks and stole money using misappropriated bank account information and the personal identifying information of individuals without their knowledge or consent to obtain at least $320,000.

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Postal Inspector in Charge Daniel S. Cortez 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.

According to his plea agreement, Silla and co-conspirators Kodjo Kakra Duncan, Kodjo Panyin Duncan, Caleb K. Otsibah, and Stephen L. Wise, opened bank accounts at financial institutions in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties in Maryland and in Washington, D.C., in their own names, in false names, in family members’ names, and in the names of shell corporations they controlled. Silla, the Duncans and Caleb Otsibah also used stolen identifying information of individuals, without their knowledge or permission, to open some of those accounts and obtain check cards.

Silla admitted that he and other conspirators obtained checks from victim individuals and corporations, which they washed to remove the actual payee’s names, then printed with the name of a conspirator, or one of the names being used by the conspirators. Silla and the other conspirators would then deposit these altered checks into accounts they controlled. Silla and other also created counterfeit checks by printing the misappropriated name and bank account information of victim individuals and companies, onto counterfeit checks. Conspirators, including Silla, then wrote out those checks in various amounts and made them payable to conspirators or companies controlled by conspirators, and deposited the counterfeit checks into accounts they controlled.

Silla admitted that the intended loss from the scheme was at least $400,000.

As part of his plea agreement, Silla is required to forfeit $900,000 in cash, and any property obtained with the proceeds of the scheme, including six flat panel TVs and other electronics; a 2004 Land Rover Range Rover, and jewelry, including a ladies Cartier watch. Silla is also required to pay restitution in the full amount of the victim’s losses, which is at least $224,094.

Silla faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison for conspiracy to commit bank fraud and for each of two counts of bank fraud; and a mandatory two years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence, for aggravated identity theft. U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. has scheduled sentencing for August 13, 2012, at 2:00 p.m.

Kodjo Kakra Duncan, age 39, of Capitol Heights, Maryland; Kodjo Panyin Duncan, age 39, of Lanham, Maryland; Caleb K. Otsibah, age 38, of Lanham; and Stephen L. Wise, age 23, of Washington, D.C., have previously pleaded guilty to their participation in the conspiracy and are awaiting sentencing.

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 U.S. Attorney Christen A. Sproule, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Daren Firestone, who are prosecuting the case.

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