FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
WEDNESDAY - October 8, 2008
LUMBERTON MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO BANK FRAUD CHARGES
GREENVILLE - Acting United States Attorney John Stuart Bruce announced that in federal court yesterday RONSDELL DEMON WASHINGTON, 45, of Lumberton, North Carolina, pled guilty before United States Magistrate Judge James E. Gates to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, and aiding and abetting bank fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1344 and 2. WASHINGTON, a fugitive for the last three years, was apprehended in Atlanta, Georgia.
A Federal Grand Jury returned a Criminal Indictment on September 28, 2005. Between March 21, 2003, and June 6, 2003, WASHINGTON, along with approximately 19 other people conspired to fraudulently purchase and cash at least 40 money orders at 10 different post offices throughout the Eastern District of North Carolina. The investigation revealed that WASHINGTON, with the help of various individuals, recruited other individuals to either open a bank account at either BB&T or Wachovia with a small initial deposit of $100.00, and request a debit card; or use an existing inactive or low balance account held in their name.
Between the time the account was opened and/or the debit cards were received in the mail, unknown co-conspirators in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia, would deposit stolen or counterfeited checks into the North Carolina bank accounts on which the debit cards were issued. The banks would credit the accounts with the total amount of the checks deposited (between $4,000 and $12,000) allowing the customer access to funds which had not yet cleared the bank processing centers.
After the stolen or counterfeited checks were deposited into the accounts, WASHINGTON would direct the individuals who opened the accounts to drive to different post offices to purchase three $500.00 money orders per visit with the debit cards. After obtaining the money orders, the individuals would immediately drive to other post offices and cash the money orders. Approximately $19,750.00 in postal money orders were obtained between March 21, 2003, and June 6, 2003. In addition to the money orders, bank ATM machines were accessed by the individuals as they traveled between the post offices.
“Schemes like the one executed by this defendant and his group compromise our fellow citizens financially and undermine the reliability and integrity of our financial system. I applaud the hard work and persistence of the United States Postal Inspectors who never gave up on this case or the defendant who fled justice for three years,” commented Mr. Bruce.
For the conspiracy charge, WASHINGTON faces a maximum penalty of up to five years imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. For the charge of aiding and abetting, the maximum penalty is up to 30 years imprisonment followed by five years of supervised release and a fine of up to $1,000,000.
Sentencing has been set for January 5, 2009.
Investigation of the case was conducted by the United States Postal Inspection Service. Assistant United States Attorney Felice McConnell Corpening served as prosecutor for the government.
News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney’s web page at www.usdoj.gov/usao/nce within 48 hours of release.