U.S. Department of Justice
Peter F. Neronha
United States Attorney
District of Rhode Island
October 22, 2010
R. I. MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO 8 COUNTS OF BANK FRAUD
Nine others charged in check cashing scheme which netted more than $73,000
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – A Cranston, R.I., man pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. District Court in Providence to eight counts of bank fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud in connection with a scheme in which six Rhode Island banks were defrauded of more than $73,000. Vincent A. Onorato, 38, admitted to the Court that between February and June 2009 he masterminded a check cashing scheme that defrauded the banks of a total of $73,255.48.
Nine others who are alleged to have been willing participants in the scheme also face federal charges of bank fraud.
The guilty plea, which was entered before U.S. District Court Chief Judge Mary M. Lisi, was announced by U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha and Thomas M. Powers, Resident Agent in Charge of the Providence Office of the U.S. Secret Service.
“As I have said before, protecting federally insured banks and the people who use them is of paramount importance to this office,” commented U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha. “When individuals target banks, either through violence or through the kind of serious fraud alleged here, we will continue to hold them accountable for their actions.”
At Friday’s change of plea hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie S. Browne told the Court that Onorato masterminded a scheme in which he would obtain checks from small businesses and individuals through solicitations for donations, in the name of various service organizations. Onorato altered the name of the payee and the amount of the check and, at times employing the assistance of others, would cash the checks.
In several instances, participants in the scheme whose names were fraudulently entered on the check by Onorato would cash the checks. In return, Onorato provided them with a portion of the proceeds.
Onorato, who has been detained since his arrest in July 2010, is scheduled to be sentenced on February 11, 2011. Bank fraud is punishable by a maximum sentence of 30 years imprisonment, $1,000,000 fine and 5 years supervised release; conspiracy to commit bank fraud is punishable by a maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment, $250,000 fine and 3 years supervised release.
The matter was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service.