U.S. Department of Justice
Peter F. Neronha
United States Attorney
District of Rhode Island
July 16, 2014
Operation Check-Mate Defendant Sentenced to 30 Months in Federal Prison
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – John Sumo, 27, a Liberian national with no permanent address in the United States, was sentenced on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Providence to 30 months in federal prison for his role in a sophisticated counterfeit check cashing scheme which resulted in the loss of more than $800,000 to financial institutions in at least four states. Sumo is one of thirteen defendants arrested as the result of a two-year federal, state and local law enforcement investigation dubbed Operation Check-Mate.
At sentencing, U.S. District Court Judge Mary M. Lisi also ordered Sumo to serve three years supervised release upon completion of his prison term and to pay restitution to the financial institutions in the amount of $814,208. Sumo pleaded guilty on April 4, 2014, to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.
Four co-defendants in this matter are detained in federal custody, two of which have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing; a third is scheduled to plead guilty on Friday; and a fourth is awaiting trial. Eight others are being prosecuted in Rhode Island state court.
Sumo’s sentence was announced by United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha, Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin, Rhode Island State Police Superintendent Colonel Steven G. O’Donnell, Ted A. Arruda, Resident Agent in Charge of the Providence Office of the U.S. Secret Service, Warwick Police Chief Colonel Stephen M. McCartney and Providence Police Chief Colonel Hugh T. Clements, Jr.
According information and documents filed in federal court, an alleged sophisticated check cashing conspiracy from July 2011 to January 2014 involved the creation of hundreds of fraudulent checks drawn on accounts of legitimate businesses and individuals that were then deposited into bank accounts of dozens of individuals who agreed to participate in the scheme in exchange for cash. The deposits, totaling more than $800,000, were made in banks in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.
Criminal complaints and indictments are merely allegations and are not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Defendants charged in federal court in this matter are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee H. Vilker.
Operation Check-Mate was a joint federal, state and local law enforcement investigation conducted by the offices of the United States Attorney and the Rhode Island Attorney General, the U.S. Secret Service, Rhode Island State Police, Warwick Police Department and the Providence Police Department.
To assist the media and the public, a glossary of federal judicial terms and procedures is available at http://www.justice.gov/usao/justice101/