News and Press Releases

Defendant Stole Mail from Multiple Seattle Apartment Complexes

March 24, 2008

NICOLAS A. NOVELLO, 26, of Seattle, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 57 months in prison, 5 years of supervised release and $50,016 in restitution for Access Device Fraud, Bank Fraud, Aggravated Identity Theft and being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm. NOVELLO pleaded guilty December 4, 2007. At sentencing U.S. District Judge James L. Robart said, “These are not victimless crimes. I see all too many identity thefts.”

According to records filed in the case, NOVELLO and his co-defendant Megen Johnson, 30, also of Seattle, began stealing mail in 2006. In March 2007, the two broke into a number of mail boxes in the Avalon Apartments and the Elliot Bay Plaza Apartments in Seattle. The couple was living at the Elliot Bay Plaza Apartments at the time. They took the mail to their apartment. When law enforcement searched the apartment on April 12, 2007, they found hundreds of items of stolen mail including driver licenses, social security cards, identification documents, credit/debit cards, bank statements, credit card statements, checks, convenience checks, cash advance checks, and checkbooks belonging to numerous theft victims. In all they determined that mail had been stolen from 243 victims in a wide geographic area including Bellevue, Bothell, Bremerton, Camano Island, Carnation, Cle Elum, Edmonds, Everett, Federal Way, Issaquah, Kirkland, Lynnwood, Mill Creek, Redmond, Renton, Sammamish, Sea Tac, Shoreline, Woodinville, and Portland, Oregon. The apartment also contained lots of merchandise that had been purchased using the stolen checks, credit cards and identities.

During the search of the apartment, officers also discovered a Glock, Model 22, .40 S&W caliber pistol. NOVELLO admitted the gun was his. NOVELLO had previously been convicted of Forgery and Possession of Stolen Property and was prohibited from possessing a firearm.

Co-defendant Megen Johnson was sentenced March 3, 2008, to 18 months in prison. Johnson claimed that NOVELLO had lead her to a life of crime. But as Assistant United States Attorney Janet Freeman pointed out in her sentencing memo, Johnson made her own choices. “Every time she used a stolen credit card to purchase something for lavish benefit, such as Rolex watches, salon services, expensive towels and linens ($900 worth) or stereo speakers, she could have exercised a moment of conscience and ceased her illegal activity. Instead, she pretended to be someone else, in effect making a mockery of both the sales clerk with whom she was dealing and the person whose stolen credit card she was using. And, still, on the day of her arrest Ms. Johnson attempted to flee from her apartment by jumping off the balcony, not because she wanted to leave behind her criminal lifestyle, but because she thought she could get away from the police,” Freeman wrote. NOVELLO also attempted to flee police when they arrived to execute the search warrant.

Both defendants said they stole mail and committed identity theft to fuel their drug habits.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and the Seattle Police Department.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Janet Freeman as part of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Working Group on Identity Theft.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.

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