Florida Man Sentenced to Over Four Years in Prison for Bank Fraud and Wire Fraud Conspiracy Involving the Theft of More Than 2,000 Checks Intended for Religious Institutions
Defendant Ordered to Pay More Than $1 Million in Restitution
Greenbelt, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang sentenced Nicolae Gindac, age 52, of Dania Beach, Florida, yesterday to 54 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, in connection with a conspiracy to steal and deposit checks intended for religious institutions. Judge Chuang also ordered Gindac to pay restitution, along with co-conspirators, in the amount of $1,096,660.11.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Postal Inspector in Charge Daniel A. Adame of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service - Washington Division; Special Agent in Charge James R. Mancuso of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore; Special Agent in Charge Shimon R. Richmond of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of Inspector General (FDIC-OIG); Chief Marcus Jones of the Montgomery County Police Department; Chief Toni Dezomits of the Cary, North Carolina, Police Department; and Sheriff Dusty Rhoades of the Williamson County, Tennessee, Sheriff’s Office.
According to his plea agreement, from at least June 2018 to January 2021, Gindac and at least five co-conspirators stole and negotiated checks from the U.S. mail intended for religious institutions. Gindac’s co-conspirators executed the thefts by driving to roadside mailboxes and directly removing the mail from the religious institutions’ mailboxes.
As part of the scheme to defraud, Gindac and other co-conspirators opened fraudulent bank accounts at several victim financial institutions under false identities and negotiated stolen checks by way of ATMs. Gindac deposited stolen checks into fraudulent bank accounts held in the names of his family members, including a minor family member, and others. Gindac and his co-conspirators subsequently withdrew the stolen funds and spent them using debit cards associated with fraudulently opened bank accounts and other bank accounts.
As detailed in his plea agreement, Gindac deposited or was present when at least $64,811.03 was deposited into 13 fraudulent accounts. The fraudulent accounts received a total of approximately $139,057.58 from 143 stolen checks.
On February 6, 2021, law enforcement arrested Gindac and recovered approximately $7,930.38 in cash, as well as a yellow-gold and diamond-encrusted Rolex men’s watch. Gindac also used some of the stolen proceeds of the conspiracy to purchase a BMW 745i Sport sedan.
In total, the conspiracy received at least $1,065,282.53 from 2,477 stolen checks.
Two co-conspirators were recently extradited to the United States. Vlad Baceanu, age 37, was extradited from Romania, and Florin Vaduva, age 30, was extradited from the United Kingdom. They had their initial appearances on November 24 and November 22, 2021, respectively. Co-conspirators Marian Unguru, age 36, Vali Unguru, age 19, and Daniel Velcu, age 43, all of Baltimore, Maryland, and Mateus Vaduva, age 29, of Hollywood, Florida, have pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy and are awaiting sentencing. Co-defendant Marius Vaduva, age 27, of Hollywood, Florida, has a re-arraignment scheduled on January 6, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. In addition to Vlad Baceanu and Florin Vaduva, one other co-conspirator is awaiting trial.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, HSI, the FDIC Office of Inspector General, the Montgomery County Police Department, the Cary (North Carolina) Police Department, and the Williamson County (Tennessee) Sheriff’s Office for their work in the investigation. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Wright, who is prosecuting the case.
For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-md and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.
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