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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, February 14, 2022

Romanian National Sentenced for Role in Multi-State ATM Skimming Scheme

BOSTON – A Romanian national was sentenced today in federal court in Boston on racketeering conspiracy charges relating to an ATM skimming operation that stretched throughout Massachusetts and other states including Connecticut, New York and South Carolina. 

Dragush Nelo Hornea, 26, was sentenced by U.S. Senior District Court Judge William G. Young to 21 months in prison and one year of supervised release. Dragush Hornea will be subject to deportation proceedings upon completion of his sentence. Judge Young also ordered Hornea to pay restitution in the amount of $90,452 and issued a forfeiture money judgment of $18,090.54. On Oct. 5, 2021, Dragush Hornea pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity (more commonly known as RICO conspiracy) and one count of conspiracy to use counterfeit access devices. Dragush Hornea was extradited from Germany to the District of Massachusetts in April 2021 after being indicted in May 2017.

Dragush Hornea was a member of the Hornea Crew, led by co-conspirators Constantin Denis Hornea and Ludemis Hornea. Over a period of 18 months, the Crew engaged in an ATM skimming scheme to steal debit card numbers and PINs from unsuspecting bank customers in Massachusetts, Connecticut, South Carolina, Georgia and other locations within the United States. Members of the Crew installed skimming devices in the following locations: Amherst, Bellingham, Billerica, Braintree, Chicopee, Quincy, Southwick, Waltham, Weymouth and Whately, Mass.; Enfield, Conn.; Columbia, Greenville, Greenwood, Mauldin, and Saluda, S.C.; Savannah, Ga.; and Yadkinville, N.C. The stolen information was then used by Hornea and other co-conspirators to clone the victim customers’ debit cards and make unauthorized withdrawals from victim bank accounts at ATMs throughout the United States. In total, the skimming activities resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses.

Dragush Hornea was indicted with 13 co-defendants in May 2017, along with another co-defendant charged in a superseding indictment. All 15 defendants have pleaded guilty and those sentenced have received sentences ranging from one year and one day to 65 months in prison.

United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division; Douglas Bartlett, Acting U.S. Marshal for the District of Massachusetts; and Colonel Christopher Mason, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police made the announcement today. Assistance with the investigation was also provided by the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations in Boston; U.S. Secret Service; U.S. Postal Service; Massachusetts Department of Correction; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; the Amherst, Billerica, Braintree, Boston, Quincy, Southwick, Waltham, Whately, and Westwood Police Departments in Massachusetts; Greenwich (Conn.), New York City, Houston, Florence and Saluda (S.C.) Police Departments; Connecticut State Police; South Carolina Law Enforcement Division; Richland County (South Carolina) Sheriff’s Department; and the Solicitor’s Offices of Greenville and Saluda Counties. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided invaluable assistance in securing the arrest and extradition of Dragush Hornea to the United States. Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy E. Moran, Chief of Rollins’ Organized Crime and Gang Unit, prosecuted the case.

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Updated February 14, 2022