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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Central District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Inland Empire Man Pleads Guilty in Wire Fraud Scheme Stemming from Use of Fraudulent Checks Made with Info Stolen from U.S. Mail

            LOS ANGELES – A Hemet man pleaded guilty today to a federal conspiracy charge for participating in a scheme in which he and another man used information obtained from stolen mail to create fraudulent checks and identity documents which were used to purchase goods that were later returned to major retail outlets to obtain cash.

            Jason William Leonard, 37, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, admitting he participated in a scheme that caused more than $114,000 in losses.

            Leonard pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Stephen V. Wilson, who is scheduled to sentence the defendant on March 20.

            In a plea agreement filed in United States District Court two weeks ago, Leonard admitted that he conspired with another man – Michael Joseph Tomassacci, 39, of San Jacinto – to create checks that they used in a scheme to purchase merchandise at retail stores with the intent to later return the merchandise for cash. In his plea agreement, Leonard specifically admitted that he and his co-conspirator used personal identifying information from approximately 265 victims to create checks that were used to purchase goods at stores, including Walmarts in Redlands and Santee.

            The total intended loss of the conspiracy was more than $250,000, and actual losses totaled $114,565.

            “Mail theft is a crime that is much more than an inconvenience for postal customers,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “This type of crime leads to identity theft and significant losses to financial institutions and other American businesses.”

            Tomassacci is a fugitive being sought by authorities. If you have any information about this fugitive, please contact the: U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 1-877-876-2455 (select Option 2) and reference case number 2026956-MT.

            When he is sentenced by Judge Wilson, Leonard will face a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.

            This case is being investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service.

            Los Angeles Division Inspector in Charge Robert Wemyss of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service stated: “We are working closely with the U.S. Attorney's Office and our partners in law enforcement to bring to justice those responsible for mail theft. Prosecution alone, however, will not solve this problem. That's why Postal Inspectors across the region have teamed up with community leaders to help educate citizens on prevention measures to better secure their mail, helping protect them from financial damage and inconvenience. Concerned citizens who have information related to mail theft or have observed suspicious activity are encouraged to contact the Postal Inspection Service at 1-877-876-2455."

            This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Victoria A. Degtyareva of the General Crimes Section.

Press Release Number: 
17-001
Updated January 9, 2017