Georgia Trio Indicted in $338,000 Bank Fraud Scheme

April 7, 2011

Greenbelt, Maryland - A federal grand jury has indicted Jean Mariat Yogo Tognia, age 35; Elza Carmelle Tognia, age 34, both of Ellenwood, Georgia; and Hoagonde Irene Amedegnato, age28, of Decatur, Georgia, in connection with a bank fraud conspiracy in which they fraudulently obtained more than $338,000 from financial institutions in Maryland. The indictment was returned on April 4, 2011 and unsealed late yesterday upon the arrest of the defendants.

The indictment 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; Special Agent in Charge David Beach of the United States Secret Service – Washington Field Office; and Chief J. Thomas Manger of the Montgomery County Police Department.

According to the 12 count indictment, the defendants created numerous aliases for themselves and obtained forms of false identification in their alias names. The indictment lists 16 aliases for Jean Tognia, eight aliases for Elza Tognia, and two aliases for Hoagonde Amedegnato. The indictment alleges that the defendants opened accounts at financial institutions in their own names and in their alias names, using the false identification documents, then wrote checks on their accounts to each other, and deposited the checks into each others’ accounts. The indictment alleges that the defendants knew that the accounts on which the checks were drawn lacked sufficient funds to cover the checks (“NSF checks”). According to the indictment, the defendants then drew funds from their accounts by way of VISA check card and debit card purchases, cash withdrawals, checks written on the accounts, and transfers to other accounts before the NSF checks were dishonored.

The indictment also seeks forfeiture of the proceeds of the scheme, including at least $338,775.76 , believed to be the losses sustained by the Maryland financial institutions.

The defendants face a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison for the conspiracy to commit bank fraud and for each of 11 counts of bank fraud. The defendants had an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Atlanta, Georgia late yesterday and were detained. The defendants have requested an identity hearing, which is scheduled for Monday, April 11, 2011, along with their detention hearing in U.S. District Court in Atlanta.

An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Secret Service-Washington Field Office and the Montgomery County Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Adam K. Ake, who is prosecuting the case.

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