FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 24, 2011
CAMDEN, N.J. – Gilbert Mercado was sentenced today to 51 months in prison for his role in a scheme to steal government funds in the form of checks from mailboxes and mail trucks in connection with an identity theft scheme, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Gilbert Mercado, 37, of Camden, previously pleaded guilty to an Information charging him with theft of government funds before U.S. District Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez, who also imposed the sentence today in Camden federal court.
According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court:
Mercado admitted that he, along with husband and wife Nathaniel Johnson, 43, and Lakisha Scanes, 30, also of Camden, stole 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.
Mercado took the personal information from the stolen checks – including names and addresses – and used that information to obtain false identification documents bearing his photograph in the names of various payees. He then used the fake documents to cash the stolen checks at various check cashing businesses in Camden and elsewhere. Mercado said he stole and cashed the checks in exchange for payment from Johnson and Scanes.
The scheme caused more than $70,000 in losses from November 1, 2009, to April 29, 2010.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Rodriguez sentenced Mercado to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay $70,804.57 in restitution. Scanes and Johnson have also pleaded guilty in connection with the scheme and 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 today’s sentence. 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 the 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: Frederick W. Klepp Esq., Cherry Hill, N.J.