Fourth Defendant Sentenced to Three Years for Stealing Government Checks from the Mail

July 3, 2008

Baltimore, Maryland - U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles, Jr. sentenced Darwin Fuentes, age 20, a Honduran national, today to three years in prison followed by two years of supervised release for receiving stolen property and aggravated identity theft, in connection with stealing government checks from mailboxes and cashing the checks using fake identity documents, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein. Fuentes is subject to deportation upon the completion of his federal sentence.

According to his guilty plea, from at least February to March 2006, Fuentes and his associates followed mail carriers on their postal routes. After the carriers deposited the mail in apartment panel mailboxes, the conspirators broke into the mailboxes and stole U.S. treasury checks and other government-issued checks. The checks represented the payment of tax refunds and other federal government benefits. Fuentes and his associates cashed the checks at liquor and convenience stores throughout Maryland using fraudulent identity documents. Additionally, on some occasions, the conspirators altered the payment amount to reflect a greater amount.

For example, on February 25, 2005 Fuentes cashed a Treasury check in the amount of $1,039 at a Jessup deli store in Howard County, using a fake Resident Alien identification card in the name of the true payee, which bore Fuentes’ picture. Similarly, on May 7, 2006, Fuentes cashed another Treasury check in the amount of $2,179 at a Prince Frederick liquor store, using a similar fake employment authorization card.

Judge Quarles determined at sentencing that at least $70,000 in losses resulted from Fuentes’s participation in the scheme.

In related cases, Jose Martires Carranza-Gonzales, age 27, was sentenced on June 13, 2008, and Juan Antonio Avila, age 41, was sentenced on April 25, 2008, each to three years in prison for receiving stolen property and aggravated identity theft. Elmin Uliser-Reyes, age 22, was also sentenced to three years in prison on April 4, 2008 for receiving stolen property, aggravated identity theft and illegal reentry into the United States. Uliser-Reyes will be deported after serving his sentence.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; Immigration and Customs Enforcement; U.S. Secret Service; the Treasury Inspector General Office for Tax Administration; the U.S. Department of the Treasury/Financial Management Service; the Comptroller of Maryland, Revenue Administration Division; the Social Security Inspector General Office; the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office and the Howard County Police Department for their investigative work in these cases. Mr. Rosenstein commended Assistant United States Attorney Michael C. Hanlon, who prosecuted the case.


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