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Press Release

South Saint Paul Man Sentenced To Federal Prison For Check Forgery Scheme

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

United States Attorney Gregory G. Brooker today announced the sentencing of JAMES MARIO LEWIS, a/k/a/ “Lowdown,” 47, to 61 months in prison for operating a years-long check fraud scheme. The defendant, who pleaded guilty on July 6, 2017, to one count of bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft, was sentenced on February 20, 2018, before Senior Judge Michael J. Davis in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, Minn.

“The recent sentencing of Mr. Lewis to over five years in prison for theft of mail should be a wake-up call to those individuals who are contemplating a similar crime”, said Acting Postal Inspector in Charge Dana Carter of the Denver Division. “The US Postal Inspection Service continues a long tradition of protecting the American public from those individuals who would steal or use the US Mail in furtherance of their criminal activities.”

According to his guilty plea and documents filed in court, from May 2009 through April 2014, LEWIS led a fraud scheme in which he and multiple co-conspirators would steal checks from victims’ mailboxes, change the name on the checks, deposit them at local banks, and then withdraw the cash proceeds. LEWIS would use chemicals to “wash” the stolen checks to remove the true payee and rewrite the checks using the names and bank account information of his co-conspirators. In total, LEWIS and his co-conspirators cashed or attempted to cash more than 60 counterfeit checks totaling more than $120,000.00.

This case was the result of an investigation conducted by the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office, and the Minnesota Financial Crimes Task Force.

Assistant United States Attorney Manda M. Sertich prosecuted this case.


Defendant Information:

JAMES MARIO LEWIS, a/k/a/ “Lowdown,” 47

South Saint Paul, Minn.


  • Bank fraud, 1 count
  • Aggravated identity theft, 1 count


  • 61 months in prison
  • Five years supervised release
  • $57,963.41 in restitution

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United States Attorney’s Office, District of Minnesota: (612) 664-5600

Updated February 23, 2018

Financial Fraud