Second Conspirator Sentenced to Life in Prison for His Role in the Murder of a Witness in a Bank Fraud Conspiracy
Victim Was a Potential Witness Against an Identity Theft Ring
Baltimore, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis sentenced Frank Marfo, age 28, of
Baltimore, today to life in prison for his role in a conspiracy to murder a witness in a bank fraud investigation. After one day of deliberation, the jury returned guilty verdicts on one count each of conspiracy to commit and committing murder for hire; conspiracy to murder and murdering a witness; use of a gun resulting in death; and one count each of conspiracy to commit and attempt to commit bank fraud.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Steven L. Gerido of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives - Baltimore Field Division; Postal Inspector in Charge Gary R. Barksdale of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service - Washington Division; Chief James W. Johnson of the Baltimore County Police Department; and Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts.
According to evidence presented at the eight day trial, from May 2009 to November 9, 2011, Marfo and his co-conspirators, Tavon Davis, Bruce Byrd and others were involved in a scheme to steal money orders from rent deposit boxes at apartment complexes, then deposit the funds into fraudulent business savings, checking and payroll accounts at banks. The conspirators withdrew the deposited funds from ATMs and other means before the banks discovered that the funds were stolen. Over the course of the conspiracy, Marfo stole, and Davis directed the deposit of, at least $1 million in money orders.
From May 2009 until April 2011, Davis recruited Isaiah Cortez Callaway to participate in the bank fraud scheme. Davis directed Callaway to open fraudulent accounts at banks, deposit the stolen money orders and checks into those accounts and withdraw cash. Callaway was also directed to recruit and pay other individuals to open the fraudulent business accounts and to provide those individuals with documentation to present to the banks in support of the fraudulent accounts. On December 29, 2010, Callaway was arrested by Baltimore County Police while he was directing two individuals to open fraudulent business accounts. Callaway was charged with possession of counterfeit documents and theft. Following his arrest, Callaway admitted to Baltimore County Police detectives his participation in the bank fraud scheme and told detectives that he was directed in the scheme by another individual who had recruited and paid him.
Marfo and Davis learned of Callaway’s arrest. From December 29, 2010 through April 11, 2011, Marfo, Davis and Byrd met several times to discuss murdering Callaway to prevent him from providing information about the bank fraud scheme. Witnesses testified that Marfo offered to commit the murder himself, but later Davis and Marfo decided to pay Byrd to commit the murder.
Davis met with Callaway upon his pre-trial release, and in January 2011, referred him to a Baltimore County attorney to represent Callaway. In March 2011, a U.S. Postal Inspector informed Callaway’s attorney that federal law enforcement officers wanted to interview Callaway about the bank fraud scheme. On April 5, 2011, an Assistant U.S. Attorney also advised Callaway’s attorney that federal law enforcement officers wished to interview Callaway about the fraud scheme and the identity of other participants. That same day, Callaway’s attorney told Davis about the requested interview of Callaway.
Between April 5 and 11, 2011, Davis exchanged numerous calls with Byrd to arrange the murder, and called Callaway 68 times. Marfo, Davis and Byrd also met shortly before the murder. Davis directed Callaway to meet Bryd on April 11, 2011 on the 1700 block of Crystal Avenue in Baltimore. Byrd used a 10mm semi-automatic handgun to kill Callaway as he sat in the driver’s seat of a car parked on Crystal Avenue. Davis met with Bryd shortly after the murder, then drove to Marfo’s residence to inform him that the murder had been committed. Davis subsequently paid Byrd $2,000 for Callaway’s murder. Marfo contributed part of the payment from his share of the fraud scheme proceeds.
“When we follow the rules and disclose to private lawyers that someone may be cooperating with law enforcement, we rely on them as officers of the court to keep the information from getting into the wrong hands,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.
Tavon Dameon Davis, age 25, and Bruce Eric Byrd, age 27, both of Baltimore, previously pleaded guilty to their role in the murder. Byrd was sentenced to 40 years in prison and Davis is awaiting sentencing.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the ATF, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Baltimore County Police Department and the Baltimore City Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorneys John F. Purcell and Joshua Kaul, who are prosecuting the case.