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Press Release

Waterbury Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Offenses Stemming from Counterfeit Check Bank Fraud Scheme

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

John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that JONELL BONILLA, 25, of Waterbury, pleaded guilty today in Hartford federal court to charges related to his operation of a counterfeit check bank fraud scheme.

According to court documents and statements made in court, between approximately December 2017 and January 2019, Bonilla and others obtained access to bank accounts by recruiting individuals through social media and persuading the individuals to share their account information, including debit cards and associated PIN numbers.  The account holders were paid for providing access to their bank accounts.  Bonilla and his co-conspirators misrepresented to the account holders that U.S. Postal Service money orders or authentic checks would be deposited into their accounts.  After Bonilla and his co-conspirators had access to the accounts, they deposited counterfeit checks into those accounts, and withdrew money from the accounts before the banks discovered the checks to be counterfeit.

Through this scheme, Bonilla and his co-conspirators defrauded at least 12 banks of a total of approximately $240,000.

Bonilla pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of bank fraud, offenses that carry a maximum term of imprisonment of 30 years each count.  He is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant on January 9, 2020.

Bonilla has been detained since his arrest on January 9, 2019.

This matter is being investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. Secret Service.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John T. Pierpont, Jr.

Updated October 2, 2019

Financial Fraud