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Press Release

Six Anchorage Residents Charged in a 29-Count Indictment with Conspiracy, Bank Fraud, Mail Theft, Aggravated Identity Theft, and Passing Counterfeit Money

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Alaska

Anchorage, Alaska – Acting U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder announced today that six Anchorage residents were charged in a 29-count indictment alleging that the six conspired to obtain checks stolen from the mail and vehicle break-ins, and then they negotiated the stolen checks at different banks and stores in Anchorage.


Sara James, 30, Jonathan James, 34, David Gonzales, 36, Brandon Madrid, 28, Braden Asbury, 20, and Karri Embach, 34, all of Anchorage, were charged in a 29-count indictment that includes charges of conspiracy, bank fraud, possession of stolen mail, aggravated identity theft, and passing counterfeit money.


According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Aunnie Steward, who presented the case to the grand jury, from August 2016 to May 2017, Sara James and Jonathan James conspired together with Gonzales, Madrid, Asbury, and Embach to negotiate checks stolen from the mail and from vehicle break-ins that were falsely altered. Most of the stolen checks were falsely altered to make the payee a separate stolen identity that was used by the defendants to negotiate the stolen checks. The defendants negotiated the stolen and falsely altered checks at banks and stores throughout Anchorage. Sara James and Jonathan James also passed counterfeit money to make a purchase on Craig’s List.


Sara James and Jonathan James are scheduled to appear in court today on the charges, at 1:00 p.m. and 1:30 p.m., respectively. Gonzales, Madrid, Asbury and Embach remain fugitives at this time.


The law provides for a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a fine of $1 million or both. Under federal sentencing statutes, the actual sentence imposed will be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.


The Anchorage Police Department and the United States Postal Inspection Service conducted the investigation leading to the indictment in this case, with assistance from the Palmer Police Department, investigators from the State of Alaska Department of Revenue, and the Anchorage District Attorney’s Office.


An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Updated August 24, 2017

Financial Fraud
Identity Theft