News and Press Releases

Marisol Medina-aviles Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Bill Mercer, United States Attorney for the District of Montana, announced today that during a federal court session in Billings on December 30, 2009, before Chief U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull, MARISOL MEDINA-AVILES, a 21-year-old resident of Los Angeles, California, pled guilty to bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. Sentencing is set for March 24, 2010. She is currently detained.

In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan R. Whittaker, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:

On May 06, 2009, the Montana Highway Patrol stopped a Ford Expedition near Three Forks for speeding. There were five occupants in the car, including MEDINA-AVILES. When questioned, MEDINA-AVILES admitted that the occupants of the vehicle were engaged in an illegal check cashing scheme. A subsequent body search of MEDINA-AVILES revealed an envelope in her underwear containing seventeen (17) stolen United States Treasury checks totaling $27,922 and thirty (30) counterfeit California driver's licenses and identification cards.

Evidence would have been introduced at trial to show that from the beginning of April until May 6, 2009, at Billings and Butte, and other places throughout the western United States, including California and Wyoming, MEDINA-AVILES entered into an agreement with others to participate in a scheme and plan to obtain money from U.S. Bank by making false statements.

As part of their scheme to commit bank fraud, MEDINA-AVILES and other co-conspirators obtained stolen United States Treasury checks belonging to other persons. They also obtained counterfeit California driver's licenses and identification cards with names and addresses corresponding to the payee names and addresses on the stolen checks. The driver's licenses and identification cards reflected the photograph of MEDINA-AVILES and other co-conspirators. Some of the checks and false identifications were in MEDINA-AVILES' possession when she was arrested and had been given to her by a co-conspirator.

The evidence would have also shown that MEDINA-AVILES and her co-conspirators furthered their scheme by driving from southern California to Montana and Wyoming to negotiate the stolen U.S. Treasury checks at various U.S. Bank branches in exchange for cash. MEDINA-AVILES and other co-conspirators made false statements to U.S. Bank employees by claiming to be the true payees of the checks. The checks presented to U.S. Bank contained the forged endorsements of the true payees. Their scheme caused the financial institution to part with thousands of dollars and involved more than 50 victims.

Evidence would have shown that on May 6, 2009, MEDINA-AVILES possessed, used and transferred a means of identification of another individual (Fernando Arias) to cash a U.S. Treasury check at U.S. Bank in Butte. The name Fernando Arias was on the U.S. Treasury check which she and another co-conspirator negotiated to U.S. Bank for $2,936 cash by claiming to be the true Fernando Arias. The means of identification furthered their scheme to commit bank fraud and the overall conspiracy. The money received from this and other checks were then given to another co-conspirator to be distributed among the members of the conspiracy.

MEDINA-AVILES faces possible penalties of 30 years in prison, a $1,000,000 fine and 5 years supervised release. In addition, MEDINA-AVILES faces an additional mandatory two year imprisonment, consecutive to any other sentence, for aggravated identity theft.

The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Montana Highway Patrol and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.



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