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Press Release

Romanian National Pleads Guilty to Federal Conspiracy Charge in Maryland for Stealing Checks from Churches and Depositing Them into Fraudulently Opened Bank Accounts, Then Withdrawing the Stolen Funds

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Maryland

Greenbelt, Maryland – Marian Unguru, age 36, of Baltimore, Maryland pleaded guilty late yesterday to a federal bank fraud and wire fraud conspiracy, in which the conspirators received approximately at least $1,115,571.68 from 2,654 stolen checks. 

The guilty plea was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner; Postal Inspector in Charge Peter R. Rendina 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 Unguru’s plea agreement, from June 2018 to January 2021, Unguru and his co-conspirators fraudulently opened bank accounts at victim financial institutions.  Unguru and his co-conspirators stole checks from the incoming and outgoing mail of churches and other religious institutions, then deposited the stolen checks into the fraudulently opened bank accounts.  Unguru and his co-conspirators then withdrew the funds and spent the fraudulently obtained proceeds.

Specifically, Unguru admitted that he and his co-conspirators used foreign identity documents, often but not universally Romanian, in both their true identities as well as suspected fictitious identities, to fraudulently open bank accounts at victim financial institutions.  Unguru and his co-conspirators then fraudulently negotiated the stolen checks by depositing the stolen checks into the victim bank accounts, often by way of automated teller machine (ATM) transactions, then made cash withdrawals from ATMs and purchases using debit cards associated with the bank accounts.  

Unguru admitted that during the course of the conspiracy, he personally deposited at least 90 stolen checks, totaling at least $35,662.79, and withdrew at least $22,200 from the accounts that received the checks.  In total, the fraudulently opened bank accounts received approximately at least $1,115,571.68 from 2,654 stolen checks.  Based on Unguru’s involvement in the scheme and his relationship with the other conspirators, between $550,000 and $1.5 million in actual and intended loss was foreseeable to Unguru.

As part of his plea agreement, Unguru has agreed to pay restitution in the full amount of the victims’ losses, which is at least $1,115,571.68, and to forfeit $14,100 in cash seized during a search of Unguru’s home on October 9, 2020.

Unguru faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud.  Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.  U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang has scheduled sentencing for Unguru on July 28, 2021, at 10:00 a.m.

Acting United States Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner 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. Lenzner thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Wright, who is prosecuting the case.

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Marcia Murphy
(410) 209-4854

Updated April 23, 2021

Financial Fraud