U.S. Attorney Vanessa R. Waldref Honored by Washington Women Lawyers for “Passing the Torch” and Going “Above and Beyond” to Mentor Women Lawyers
Spokane – Michael C. Ormsby, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that Souha Yazbek, age 27, of Spokane, Washington, was sentenced today as a result of her guilty pleas on September 9, 2016, to the charges of Possession of a Counterfeit Postal Key, Possession of Stolen Mail, Aggravated Identity Theft, and Conspiracy to Commit Bank Fraud.
Senior United States District Judge Justin L. Quackenbush sentenced Souha Yazbek to a total of sixty months in federal prison on the charges, to be followed by an additional sixty months of court supervision following her release from imprisonment.
According to information disclosed during the court proceedings, in February of 2016, Yazbek was arrested in Spokane for attempting to sell a stolen vehicle. At the time, law enforcement officers discovered Yazbek was in possession of a counterfeit U.S. Postal Service key that would allow her access to the back of large cluster-style mail boxes. Law enforcement officers were aware that mail theft had been occurring in the area, and obtained a search warrant for Yazbek’s residence. During the search of her residence officers located thousands of pieces of stolen mail, belonging to more than 900 Spokane residents. The subsequent investigation revealed that Yazbek and three co-conspirators had forged personal and business checks stolen from the mail and deposited them into their own bank accounts, as well as using stolen credit cards to make fraudulent purchases. Yazbek had also previously stolen the identity of a California resident, opened a bank account under that person’s identity, and obtained and used a credit card in that person’s name. The fraudulently purchased items included, for example, Hobby Lobby furniture, a mattress from the Davenport Hotel, and pairs of eyeglasses from Lens Crafters.
Judge Quackenbush imposed significant sentences in Yazbek’s three co-conspirators’ cases as well: co-conspirator Charice Unruh received a thirty-seven month term of imprisonment to be followed by five years of supervised release; co-conspirator Shawn Fitzgerald received a twenty-four month term to be followed by five years of supervised release; and co-conspirator Raquel Calloway received a fifteen-month term to be followed by five years of supervised release. At the sentencing hearings, Judge Quackenbush emphasized the criminal conduct widely affected the community and had significant emotional and financial impact on the victims. Judge Quackenbush also ordered a total of more than $50,000 in restitution be paid to the individual and business victims in the case.
Michael C. Ormsby said, “This case is yet another fine example of the great work that can be accomplished when state and federal law enforcement work together. I commend the Spokane County Sherriff’s Department and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Today’s sentence should serve as a warning to those who may consider stealing mail or using another person’s identity; such criminals will be actively and aggressively pursued by federal and state law enforcement officers.”
The investigation of this case was conducted by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service with the assistance of the Spokane County Sherriff’s Department. The case was prosecuted by Allyson Edwards, an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.