Two Conspirators Sentenced in $320,000 Bank Fraud Scheme

July 18, 2012

Greenbelt, Maryland - Two conspirators were sentenced this week in a bank fraud conspiracy in which the conspirators created checks and stole money using misappropriated bank account information to obtain at least $320,000.

U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams Jr. sentenced Stephen L. Wise, age 23, of Washington D.C., yesterday to 37 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for bank fraud conspiracy and bank fraud and ordered Wise to pay restitution of $58,974.61.

On July 16, 2012, Judge Williams sentenced co-conspirator Kodjo Panyin Duncan, age 39, of Lanham, Maryland to 45 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release for bank fraud conspiracy, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft arising from the scheme. Judge Williams also ordered Duncan to pay restitution of $114,900.

The sentences were 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.

According to their plea agreements, from June 2010 to February 2011, Wise, 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. Wise, Duncan and their 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 Wise a portion of the value of at least 12 fraudulent checks to deposit and cash these checks.

The conspirators paid Duncan a portion of the value of at least 38 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 Wise and 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. Kodjo Kakra Duncan, age 39, of Capitol Heights, Maryland and Caleb K. Otsibah, age 38, of Lanham, are scheduled to be sentenced on July 23 and 27, 2012, respectively.

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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