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Press Release

Elk Grove Woman Sentenced to Prison for Stolen Mail Scheme, Ordered to Pay for Repairing Mail Boxes

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

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Keri S. Southwood, 21, of Elk Grove, was sentenced today to two years and eight months in prison for bank fraud and aggravated identity theft, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced. U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell ordered Southwood to pay $12,300 in restitution, which includes $6,526 for repairing U.S. Postal Service mail boxes.

San Francisco Division Inspector in Charge Rafael Nunez of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service stated: “We are working closely with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our partners at the Elk Grove Police Department to arrest and prosecute those responsible for mail theft to protect postal customer’s mail and personal information from theft.”

Elk Grove Police Chief Robert Lehner stated: “We appreciate the working relationship with the Postal Inspector’s Office in this case. These crimes have an enormous impact on a community like ours and it’s important that offenders be held appropriately accountable for their actions. In this case, I don’t know that would have happened without the partnership.”

According to court documents, between October 1, 2014 and February 12, 2015, Southwood and her co-defendants Joseph D. Ryan, 21, and Leonard A. Velasco, 24, both of Elk Grove, participated in a scheme to obtain stolen financial and personal identification information and use such to defraud financial institutions and merchants. Southwood and her co-defendants stole U.S. mail by damaging or destroying mail boxes and neighborhood U.S. Postal Service receptacles. After cataloguing the stolen mail, the defendants targeted certain postal customers in order to return to the mail receptacles to steal the replacement credit or debit cards mailed to the postal customers. The defendants also used information found in the stolen mail to apply for credit cards and had the cards sent to an address they controlled. The defendants used the credit or debit cards, PINs, and victims’ names to get money, goods and services.

According to court documents, Southwood and her co-defendants possessed stolen U.S. mail of over 1,000 victims and over 30 credit cards in victims’ names. As a result of the destruction of postal receptacles, customers suffered the loss of mail and mail services and the Postal Service suffered loss. Southwood pleaded guilty on September 1, 2015.

Co-defendant Ryan is scheduled for trial before Judge Burrell on April 5, 2016. The charges against Ryan are only allegations; he is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Co-defendant Velasco pleaded guilty on August 25, 2015, to bank fraud and aggravated identity theft and is scheduled to be sentenced on February 5, 2016. Velasco faces up to 30 years in prison for bank fraud and two consecutive years in prison for aggravated identity theft. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

This case was the product of an investigation by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Elk Grove Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Michelle Rodriguez prosecuted the case.

Updated January 22, 2016

Topic
Identity Theft
Press Release Number: 2:15-cr-116-GEB