FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 26, 2011
CAMDEN, N.J. – Johanna Fraticelli admitted today to participating in a scheme to steal checks from mailboxes and mail trucks, including government checks, in connection with an identity theft scheme, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Fraticelli, 29, of Camden, pleaded guilty to an Information charging her with theft of government funds. Fraticelli entered her guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez in Camden federal court.
According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court:
Nathaniel Johnson, 43, and his wife, Lakisha Scanes, 30, of Camden, ran the scheme – stealing mail from U.S. Postal vehicles and mailboxes in the Camden area from November 2009 through April 2010. They stole the mail in order to obtain checks, including Social Security, unemployment and tax refund checks issued by the federal government and the state of New Jersey. Johnson also admitted that he recruited other individuals, primarily crack addicts and prostitutes, to help cash the stolen checks.
Johnson then took personal information from the checks – including names and addresses – and used it to obtain false identification documents for the check cashers from various identification businesses in and around Camden. Johnson transported the check cashers to and from the identification businesses and the check cashing businesses, and paid each check casher a portion of the proceeds. The scheme caused more than $70,000 in losses from November 1, 2009, to April 29, 2010.
Fraticelli admitted to serving as one of the check cashers for Johnson and Scanes, and stated that she obtained fraudulent identification documents in her name and then used that fraudulent identification to cash the stolen checks.
The charge to which Fraticelli pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for September 7, 2011.
Johnson, Scanes and another co-conspirator, Gilbert Mercado, 37, also of Camden, have each pleaded guilty to the same charge. Mercado was sentenced on May 24, 2011, to 51 months in prison. Scanes and Johnson are scheduled to be sentenced on June 29, 2011 and July 26, 2011, respectively.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited U.S. Postal Inspectors, under the direction of Karen Higgins, Postal Inspector in Charge of the Philadelphia Division, for their investigation leading to the guilty pleas. He also thanked the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Edward J. Ryan; U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations, Northeast Field Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey G. Hughes; and Camden Police Department, under the direction of Chief John Scott Thomson.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Diana Carrig of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Camden.
Defense counsel: Martin Isenberg Esq., Gibbsboro, N.J.