Two Plead Guilty to Federal Wire Fraud Connected to Scheme to Defraud The Department of Veteran Affairs
NEW ORLEANS – U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans announced that ANTOINE MERCHANT, age 32, of New York, New York, pleaded guilty on August 26, 2021 to conspiracy to pass altered U.S. Postal money orders, passing altered U.S. Postal money orders and possessing stolen U.S. government property today before United States District Court Judge Carl J. Barbier of the Eastern District of Louisiana.
According to court records, MERCHANT and a co-defendant who has already plead guilty, Anthony Smalls, travelled from New York to Louisiana in October of 2019 to cash stolen U.S. Postal money orders that had been altered to show amounts worth hundreds of dollars. MERCHANT and the co-defendant cashed two such postal money orders in Kenner and Metairie, LA, and a number of altered money orders in the Baton Rouge area. When arrested, the defendants also possessed 58 U.S. Postal money orders that they had stolen from an Ascension Parish U.S. Post Office the day before.
MERCHANT is to be sentenced on December 9, 2021. At that time, he faces a sentence of up to ten years in prison on the possession charge and up to five years in prison for the Postal money order charges, up to $250,000 in fines, and up to three years of supervised release. At sentencing, MERCHANT must also pay a mandatory $100 special assessment for each count of conviction.
U.S. Attorney Evans praised the work of the United States Postal Inspection Service, along with assistance from the Louisiana State Police - Criminal Investigations Department, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office and Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office, in investigating this matter. Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward J. Rivera is in charge of the prosecution.
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