News and Press Releases

News and Press Releases

Federal jury convicts Oakdale man of stealing mail and committing bank fraud and identity theft

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 19, 2012


MINNEAPOLIS—Late last week in St. Paul, a federal jury found a 40-year-old Oakdale
man guilty of stealing mail and using the identities of the victims of that crime to create bank
accounts and obtain cash. On March 16, 2012, the jury convicted Ricky W. Mariano of two
counts of theft and receipt of stolen mail, two counts of destruction of letter boxes, one count of
bank fraud conspiracy, one count of bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.
Mariano was charged in a superseding indictment on January 10, 2012.

According to the indictment and evidence presented at trial, Mariano, also known as Ricky
William Scharrer, stole mail from curbside mailboxes in Dakota, Ramsey, and Washington
counties from July 2010 through July 2011. The mail was stolen in order to obtain and use the
personal information and financial instruments of others to acquire funds from their bank
accounts. The personal information stolen included names, birth dates, and bank account
numbers, among other things, while the financial instruments taken included credit cards and
checks.

To access the bank accounts of the victims, Mariano and his co-defendants employed a
process known as “check washing,” through which a chemical is used to erase certain details
from checks while retaining other information, such as bank account and routing numbers. In this case, the “washed” checks were rewritten at various retail stores in Minnesota and
Wisconsin. In addition, from December of 2010 through January 31, 2011, Mariano destroyed
letter boxes known as blue collection boxes in an effort to obtain mail.

Nine of Mariano’s co-defendants have already pleaded guilty for their participation in the
conspiracy, and two of them have already been sentenced. They were indicted on August 2,
2011.

On February 7, 2012, United States District Court Judge Donovan W. Frank sentenced
Clifton G. Evans, Jr., age 33, of St. Paul, to 66 months in prison on one count of conspiracy to
commit bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. Evans pleaded guilty on
November 16, 2011. Also on February 7, 2012, Judge Frank sentenced Jamie Marie Smith, age
34, of North St. Paul, to six months on one count of theft of mail. Smith, also known as Jamie
Marie Sylvester, pleaded guilty on November 9, 2011.

On January 13, 2012, Vincent Robert Vail, age 19, of White Bear Lake, pleaded guilty to
one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of aiding and abetting aggravated
identity theft. Also, on January 13, Sarrah M. Vail, age 41, of White Bear Lake, pleaded guilty
to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of aiding and abetting
aggravated identity theft. On January 3, 2012, James Edward Freeman, age 20, also of White
Bear Lake, pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud conspiracy and one count of aiding and
abetting aggravated identity theft. On December 14, 2011, Annemarie Vail, age 46, of Vadnais
Heights, pleaded guilty to one count of theft of mail. On December 9, 2011, Benjamin J. Dolan,
age 36, also of Vadnais Heights, pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud conspiracy and one
count of aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft. On December 1, 2011, Jacob Charles
Dutton, age 28, of Minneapolis, pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud conspiracy and one
count of aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft. In his plea agreement, Dutton also
admitted stealing checks and credit cards from automobiles. On November 21, 2011, James N
Hahne, age 36, of St. Paul, pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud conspiracy and one count
of aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft. In his plea agreement, Hahne admitted, among
other things, that he destroyed mail collection boxes in order to steal mail.

For their crimes, the defendants face a potential maximum penalty of 30 years in prison on
each count of bank fraud and bank fraud conspiracy, five years for each count of theft of mail,
three years for each count of destruction of letter boxes, and a mandatory minimum penalty of
two years for each count of aggravated identity theft. Judge Frank will determine their
sentences at future hearings.

This case is the result of an investigation by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the sheriff
offices of Dakota, Ramsey, and Washington counties, along with the police departments of
Blaine, Inver Grove Heights, Lakeville, and White Bear Lake. The case is being prosecuted by
Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura M. Provinzino. Assistant U.S. Attorney James E. Lackner
assisted during the Mariano trial.

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