Two Plead Guilty in Scheme to Steal Mail
Defendants Removed Checks From Mailboxes, Altered And Cashed Them
LYNCHBURG, VIRGINIA -- A pair of North Carolina men pled guilty this morning in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Lynchburg to charges that they stole checks from mailboxes throughout Central Virginia, altered the checks and cashed them for their personal use.
Getony Barnette, 28, of Charlotte, N.C. and Jeremy Brown, 29, also of Charlotte, N.C., both pled guilty this morning. Brown pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and identity fraud. Barnette pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, mail theft and identity fraud and one count of aggravated identity fraud.
“These defendants stole checks sent through the mail, altered them, then attempted to cash the checks at local businesses," United States Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy said today. “This simple fraud scheme had a tremendous impact on the individuals whose checks were stolen. We will do all we can to make these victims whole, and to protect the safety and integrity of the U.S. Mail."
According to a statement of facts filed today and agreed to by the defendants, Barnette, Brown, and others, traveled from Charlotte, N.C. to the Western District of Virginia in order to steal mail containing checks, alter those checks and convert the money for their personal use. The pair admitted to stealing checks from mailboxes, scratching off the addressee’s name, and sometimes the amount the check was written for, and making the checks out to “check cashers” who were then paid to go cash the checks at local banks. The checks were cashed throughout Central Virginia, including in Salem, Roanoke, Lynchburg, Bedford County, Blacksburg and Christiansburg. In all, more than $300,000 was stolen.
The investigation of the case was conducted by the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Lynchburg Police Department, the Roanoke Police Department, the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office, the Salem Police Department, the Christiansburg Police Department and the Blacksburg Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney C. Patrick Hogeboom III will prosecute the case for the United States.