Final Bakersfield Defendants Plead Guilty in Bank Fraud Conspiracy
FRESNO, Calif. — Edgar Alexander Gomez, 41, and Jennifer Grace Barthel, 36, both of Bakersfield, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, Acting United States Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced. Gomez additionally pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft.
According to court documents, between July and September 2012, Gomez and Barthel stole identity documents from the U.S. mail, including driver's licenses, social security cards, and credit and debit cards. On several occasions, Gomez and Barthel attempted to open bank accounts at federally insured financial institutions using the identities of people whose mail they had stolen. In connection with one of their attempts to fraudulently open bank accounts, Gomez and Barthel attempted to negotiate a check after forging the payee’s signature.
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 in law enforcement to arrest and prosecute those responsible for complex identity fraud schemes and to protect postal customers' mail and personal information from theft.”
This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Assistant United States Attorneys Megan Richards and Christopher Baker are prosecuting the case.
Co-defendant Augustine Castro Salazar, 47, also of Bakersfield, pleaded guilty on November 16, 2015, to theft of U.S. mail. In his plea agreement, Salazar admitted that he and Gomez, on five occasions in August 2012, broke open and stole mail from mail boxes at several U.S. Postal Service facilities in Bakersfield. Salazar remains in custody awaiting sentencing.
Gomez and Barthel are scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O'Neill on September 26, 2016. They face a maximum statutory penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine for conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Gomez additionally faces a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison for aggravated identity theft. Salazar is scheduled to be sentenced on July 25, 2016, and faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentences, 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.