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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Jersey

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Essex County Man Admits Role in $2 Million Fraudulent Check Scheme Targeting Home-Improvement Stores

NEWARK, N.J. – A Newark man today admitted his role in a phony check scheme that resulted in the theft of over $2 million in merchandise from multiple home-improvement stores throughout the country, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced. 

Lessie Dickerson III, 35, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Katharine S. Hayden in Newark federal court to one count of an indictment charging him with conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

From December 2013 and through February 2017, Dickerson and others conspired to obtain merchandise or store credit from home-improvement stores in the eastern United States, including New Jersey, by purchasing items with fraudulent checks. They entered home-improvement and other retail stores and gathered high-value items, like air conditioners or hardwood flooring. Dickerson and others then typically “purchased” the items either by a fraudulent check with a phony name but authentic account and routing numbers, or by pretending to be an authorized signatory on a store credit account that Dickerson and others had previously opened with a phony check.

During some of the transactions, Dickerson and others displayed fake driver’s licenses that had been created by one of the conspirators, which either duplicated the phony name imprinted on the fraudulent check they presented for payment or matched the name of an authorized signatory on a store credit account that they had previously opened.

Dickerson and others allegedly stole over $2 million in merchandise from various retailers in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and South Carolina.

The count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud carries a maximum potential of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 16, 2019.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited postal inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector in Charge James Buthorn, and special agents of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Jersey, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. He also thanked the Union Township Police Department, the Holmdel Police Department, the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office, the Totowa Police Department, and the Monroe Township Police Department for their assistance.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason S. Gould of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 
Updated May 14, 2019