Greenbelt, Maryland - A federal grand jury today indicted Mercy Coffie-Joseph, a/k/a Mercy A. Coffie, age 40, of Landover, Maryland, on charges of wire fraud and money laundering in connection with a scheme to embezzle over $453,000 from her employer. She was also charged with making a false statement in a passport application, using a passport obtained through a false statement and aggravated identity theft.
The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Special Agent in Charge Niall Meehan of the Washington Field Office of the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service.
According to the 10 count indictment, from May 2010 through February 15, 2013, Joseph was employed by Systems Assessment & Research, Inc. (SAR), where she had the authority to make electronic payments to contractors on SAR’s behalf. The indictment alleges that during the time of her employment, Joseph allegedly stole $453,125.52 from her employer by initiating funds transfers from SAR bank accounts to bank accounts she owned and/or controlled. The indictment alleges that Joseph laundered the money, using the stolen funds to draw two cashier’s checks for $40,000 and $50,000, respectively, to purchase a house in Ghana.
The indictment also alleges that Joseph used the name and date of birth of another individual, without the person’s knowledge or permission, to apply for and receive a United States passport, which Joseph then used to travel to Ghana.
The indictment seeks forfeiture of the proceeds of the wire fraud, including $453,125.52 in cash, as well as property discovered at Joseph’s home during the execution of a search warrant on April 15, 2013, including a video camera worth approximately $10,000, a Gucci handbag purchased for approximately $885, diamond earrings and necklace, a Movado watch, and computers.
Joseph faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for each count of wire fraud and money laundering; a maximum of 10 years in prison for making a false statement on a passport application; and a mandatory two years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence imposed, for aggravated identity theft.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
Today’s announcement is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked the FBI and U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein praised Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas P. Windom and Robert K. Hur, who are prosecuting the case.