District Man Pleads Guilty to Charges in Fraud and Theft Schemes Targeting Businesses
Defendant Got Access to Checks Written to Companies
WASHINGTON – Kevin Cole, 26, of Washington, D.C., has pled guilty to charges stemming from a pair of schemes in which he stole nearly $80,000 in checks intended for local businesses, U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu announced today.
Cole pled guilty on July 31, 2018, in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, to two counts of first-degree theft, including one with an enhancement for violating terms of his pretrial release, and one count each of first-degree fraud and violating the Bail Reform Act. Cole is in custody pending his sentencing on Oct. 19, 2018, by the Honorable Kimberley S. Knowles.
According to a proffer of facts submitted at the plea hearing, from September through December of 2014, Cole targeted a privately owned swimming pool business in a fraud scheme. He stole checks that were being mailed to a mailbox the company kept at a copy and print shop in Northwest Washington. He also created a bank account in a name that mimicked that of the company’s. In total, he stole at least 21 checks from the company, totaling $64,794. In addition, he obtained access to checkbooks belonging to two other people, and attempted to deposit checks into accounts he had created. The pool company discovered the fraud and the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) began an investigation that led to Cole’s arrest in June 2016.
In 2017, while on pretrial release for the earlier fraud, Cole carried out essentially the same scheme again: this time, he got access to business mailboxes by signing up for an account at a virtual office space in Northwest Washington. Once there, he stole a number of checks from different companies, including a check in the amount of about $15,000 that was paid from a church to a musician for a Christmastime concert and recording. Again, Cole created a fraudulent bank account in the name of the musician’s company and tried to pass the check off as his own; however, the scheme was detected and the church stopped payment on the stolen check.
Cole was once again arrested in May 2017. He failed to appear for a court hearing on July 13, 2018, leading to the Bail Reform Act charge against him.
In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Liu commended the work of the detectives who investigated the crimes from the Metropolitan Police Department. She also expressed appreciation for the assistance provided by the U.S. Marshals Service and the Arlington County, Va. Police Department. She acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephanie Miller and Michael Christin; former Assistant U.S. Attorney Teresa A. Howie; Paralegal Specialists Aisha Keys and Angelia Slagle; Litigation Technology Specialist Anisha Bhatia, and Intern David Seidman and former Intern Tessa Tilton. Finally, she commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael J. Romano and Jason Feldman, who investigated and prosecuted the case.