FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 10, 2011
CAMDEN, N.J. – Nathaniel Johnson admitted today to stealing government funds in the form of checks from mailboxes and mail trucks in connection with an identity theft scheme that he ran with his wife, Lakisha Scanes, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Johnson, 42, of Camden, pleaded guilty to an Information charging him with theft of government funds. Johnson entered his 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:
Johnson admitted that he and his wife, Scanes, 30, of Camden, stole mail from U.S. Postal vehicles and mailboxes in and around Camden 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. In addition, Johnson admitted that he 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.
The charge to which Johnson pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for May 16, 2011.
Scanes, who helped Johnson rob mailboxes and recruit and transport check cashers, also pleaded guilty to theft of government funds, on January 25, 2011. Another co-conspirator, Gilbert Mercado, 36, of Camden, helped Johnson to rob mail vehicles and cashed several checks. Mercado pleaded guilty to the same charge on January 24, 2011. Scanes and Mercado are scheduled to be sentenced on May 3, 2011.
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 -2- 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.
Johnson – Justin T. Loughry, Esq., Camden Mercado – Frederick W. Klepp, Esq., Cherry Hill, N.J. Scanes – Lisa Evans Lewis, Esq., Federal Public Defender, Camden