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Press Release

St. Louis County Man Caught with Checks Stolen from the Mail Sentenced to Prison

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

ST. LOUIS – U.S. District Judge John A. Ross on Wednesday sentenced a St. Louis County, Missouri man who bought and re-sold checks stolen from the mail to 10 months in prison.

Dennis Cooperwood Jr., 19, of Country Club Hills, admitted being caught by St. Louis County Police in possession of about 179 business and personal checks on April 12, 2022 that had been taken from U.S. Postal Service collection boxes.

Officers on patrol in the Spanish Lake area spotted a vehicle stopped in the middle of the road with multiple people standing at the windows. After the crowd dispersed and the vehicle drove away, officers stopped the vehicle and found Cooperwood in the back seat wearing a shoulder bag containing a gun and the checks. Cooperwood told officers that he bought stolen checks for $5 to $10 each and would remove the writing on the checks before re-selling them for $20 to $25. 

In a sentencing memo, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Clow said the checks belonged to about 100 individuals and businesses, and the case comes at a time of an increase in both mail theft and associated fraud which was undermining “the public’s sense of security and confidence in a vital government service.” 

In court, Clow said the impact of Cooperwood’s actions “goes beyond any sort of financial harm.” In letters to Judge Ross, five victims said the theft of their mail snarled their finances, made them fear for the security of their personal information and cost them hours of work closing checking accounts and dealing with creditors. One wedding officiant said lost wedding license documentation delayed medical treatment for a woman for nearly four months over insurance issues. 

 “The successful investigation of the defendant’s operation resulted in the recovery of 179 checks stolen from the U.S. mail, and the prevention of potential long-term financial harm to numerous account holders,” said Inspector in Charge Ruth Mendonça who leads the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Chicago Division, which includes the St. Louis Field Office.  “The U.S. Postal Inspection Service and its law enforcement partners will continue to work together to hold mail thieves accountable.”  

Cooperwood pleaded guilty in April to one felony count of possession of stolen mail matter. 

The case was investigated by the St. Louis County Police Department and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Clow is prosecuting the case.

Updated August 9, 2023

Topic
Financial Fraud