Huntsville Man Sentenced to Three Years in Prison for Bank Fraud and Identity Theft
BIRMINGHAM -- A federal judge today sentenced a Huntsville man to three years in prison and ordered him to forfeit $79,619 for his scheme to steal and counterfeit business checks in 2014, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and U.S. Postal Inspector Frank Dyer.
U.S. District Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn sentenced BERNARD EUGENE MCKINNEY II, 29, on five bank fraud and two aggravated identity theft charges. A federal jury convicted McKinney on the charges in August. He must report to prison Feb. 6.
According to the government’s sentencing memorandum, evidence at trial showed that McKinney’s scheme involved recruiting various friends and acquaintances to cash fraudulent checks around the Huntsville area. The scheme defrauded BBVA Compass Bank of $79,619 in a series of transactions over several days. “The actions of the Defendant were not a ‘one-time’ mistake, but a well-developed plan and scheme in which the Defendant had to make a conscience decision to act each time a fraudulent check was cashed. He involved five other people in the scheme,” the sentencing memorandum said.
Trial evidence showed that McKinney, with the help of his recruits, counterfeited legitimate business checks that had been stolen from the U.S. mail, changed the payee names to himself or others, and then cashed the checks at Compass Bank branches in north Alabama. McKinney also forged the signature of the person who signed the original checks, which he used to manufacture the counterfeits.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigated the case, which Assistant U.S. Attorney David H. Estes prosecuted.