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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Virginia

Friday, February 26, 2021

North Carolina Man Sentenced for Mail and Bank Fraud Conspiracy

RICHMOND, Va. – A Fayetteville, North Carolina man was sentenced today to 30 months in prison for participating in a scheme to steal, alter, and cash business checks from Richmond-area mailboxes.

Sammy Marquelle Bethea, 25, was convicted of conspiracy to commit mail and bank fraud following a four-day jury trial in October 2020. According to the government’s evidence at trial, in 2018, Bethea and his cousin, Lareese Mallety, 27, repeatedly traveled from their North Carolina homes to the Richmond area to steal business checks from mailboxes in and around industrial parks. The cousins would manually alter the checks using razorblades and a typewriter, after which they would add the name of a recruited homeless or indigent individual who would walk the check into a local Virginia bank to obtain cash. In 2018, members of the conspiracy successfully cashed more than $30,000 worth of stolen and counterfeit checks.

Law enforcement uncovered the scheme in October 2018, when Bethea and Mallety's vehicle was stopped by the Virginia State Police while traveling to Richmond. At that time, the officers discovered that Bethea and Mallety were in possession of a pry bar, typewriter, and razorblades, as well as stolen packages and nearly 50 checks stolen from more than 40 businesses worth over $120,000.

Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Colonel Gary T. Settle, Superintendent of Virginia State Police; and Peter R. Rendina, Inspector in Charge of the Washington Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, made the announcement after sentencing by Senior U.S. District Judge Robert E. Payne.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas A. Garnett and Kevin Elliker prosecuted the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 3:19-cr-77.

Financial Fraud
Press Officer
Updated February 26, 2021