News and Press Releases

Bank Fraud Co-conspirator Pleads Guilty

March 27, 2012

COEUR D’ALENE – Charles Earl Baker, 32, of Tucson, Arizona, pleaded guilty today in United States District Court in Coeur d’Alene to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced.

According to the plea agreement, Charles Baker met co-defendant Michelle Ann Mason in late 2010. Baker admitted that in February 2011, he was aware of Mason's scheme to commit bank fraud with stolen and/or counterfeit mail. Baker admitted that he knowingly became involved in the conspiracy and intended to commit bank fraud when he opened a bank account at U.S. Bank and deposited counterfeit, altered, and/or forged checks that were stolen from the mail, into his and other compromised accounts, and then withdrew cash from the accounts using ATMs.

Baker faces up to 30 years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to five years of supervised release. Sentencing is set for June 19, 2012, before U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge at the federal courthouse in Coeur d’Alene.

Mason, 27, of Oldtown, Idaho, pleaded guilty on March 1 to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. She admitted that she was the leader and organizer of a group of individuals who stole mail in and near Oldtown and that she took over bank accounts opened by her co-conspirators and withdrew money from the accounts using ATMs. Victims included banks and merchants, and victims of the mail theft. Mason agreed to pay victims $37,790.39 in restitution. She is scheduled to be sentenced on June 18 in Coeur d'Alene.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and Pend Oreille County Sheriff's Office in Washington, Kootenai County Sheriff's Office, Bonner County Sheriff's Office, and U.S. Secret Service.