News and Press Releases

News and Press Releases

Oakdale man sentenced for stealing mail and committing bank fraud and identity theft

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 26, 2012


MINNEAPOLIS—Yesterday in federal court in St. Paul, a 41-year-old Oakdale man was sentenced for stealing mail and using the identities of the victims of that crime to create bank accounts and obtain cash. United States District Court Judge Donovan W. Frank sentenced Ricky W. Mariano to 70 months in federal prison on 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, and he was convicted on March 16, 2012, following a jury trial.

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 between July 2010 and July 2011. During a portion of that time, specifically from December of 2010 through January of 2011, he destroyed blue, roadside, collection boxes in order to access the mail. From what he stole, he and other members of his conspiracy obtained and used the personal information and financial instruments belonging to others in an effort to acquire funds from their bank accounts. That personal information included, among other things, names, birth dates, and bank account numbers, while the financial instruments included credit cards and checks.

To subsequently access the bank accounts of his victims, Mariano and his co-defendants employed a process known as “check washing.” Through that process, a chemical is used to erase certain details from checks while retaining other information, such as bank account numbers and routing numbers. In this case, the “washed” checks were ultimately used at various retail stores in Minnesota and Wisconsin to obtain merchandise or cash, the value of which was then subtracted from the victims’ accounts.

Following yesterday’s sentencing, Adam P. Behnen, Postal Inspector in Charge of the Denver Division, which covers the Twin Cities, said, “The sentencing of Mr. Mariano today should serve as a wake-up call to those who would steal U.S. mail in furtherance of their criminal activities. The Postal Inspection Service will continue to remain vigilant by protecting the nation’s mail system to ensure that it is safe and secure for public use.”

Nine of Mariano’s co-defendants have already been sentenced for their participation in this conspiracy:
On June 8, 2012, Jacob Charles Dutton, age 28, of Minneapolis, was sentenced to 21 months in prison on one count of bank fraud conspiracy and one count of aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft. He pleaded guilty on December 1, 2011. In his plea agreement, Dutton also admitted stealing checks and credit cards from automobiles.

On June 11, 2012, Annemarie Vail, age 47, of Vadnais Heights, was sentenced to five months in prison on one count of theft of mail. She pleaded guilty on December 14, 2011.

On May 21, 2012, Sarrah M. Vail, age 41, of White Bear Lake, was sentenced to 51 months in prison on one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft. She pleaded guilty on January 13, 2012.

On April 25, 2012, Vincent Robert Vail, age 19, also of White Bear Lake, was sentenced to 39 months in prison on one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft. He pleaded guilty on January 3, 2012.

On April 11, 2012, Benjamin J. Dolan, age 36, also of Vadnais Heights, was sentenced to 29 months in prison on one count of bank fraud conspiracy and one count of aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft. He pleaded guilty on December 9, 2011.

On April 12, 2012, James N. Hahne, age 36, of St. Paul, was sentenced to 44 months in prison on one count of bank fraud conspiracy and one count of aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft. He pleaded guilty on November 21, 2011. In his plea agreement, Hahne also admitted that he destroyed mail collection boxes in order to steal mail.

On February 7, 2012, Clifton G. Evans, Jr., age 34, of St. Paul, was sentenced to 66 months in prison on one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. He pleaded guilty on November 16, 2011.

On February 7, Jamie Marie Smith, age 34, of North St. Paul, was sentenced to six months in prison on one count of theft of mail. Smith, also known as Jamie Marie Sylvester, pleaded guilty on November 9, 2011.

On June 21, 2012, James Edward Freeman, age 20, also of White Bear Lake, was sentenced to time served on one count of bank fraud conspiracy and one count of aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft. He pleaded guilty on January 3, 2012.

This case was the result of an investigation by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the sheriff offices in Dakota, Ramsey, and Washington counties, along with the police departments of Blaine, Inver Grove Heights, Lakeville, and White Bear Lake. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura M. Provinzino.

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