Albuquerque Woman Pleads Guilty to Federal Fraud, Identity Theft and Theft of Mail Charges
ALBUQUERQUE – Ericka Chavez, 22, of Albuquerque, N.M., pled guilty today in federal court to bank fraud, identify theft and theft of mail charges.
U.S. Postal Inspectors arrested Chavez on March 21, 2018, on a criminal complaint charging her with theft of mail. The complaint alleged that in Oct. 2017 and Feb. 2018, mail boxes at two Albuquerque-area apartment complexes were broken into and mail was stolen. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service initiated an investigation into the scheme after receiving complaints that checks stolen from the mail boxes had been altered and used to pay for memberships to Albuquerque stores.
Chavez was subsequently charged in a 19-count indictment on April 10, 2018, with three counts of theft of mail, eight counts of bank fraud and eight counts of aggravated identity theft. According to the indictment, Chavez committed the offenses from Oct. 2017 through March 2018, in Bernalillo County, N.M., by stealing mail from cluster mailboxes located in apartment complexes. The mail stolen included checkbooks, checks, and personal identifiers of victims, which Chavez used to commit further crimes.
During today’s proceedings, Chavez pled guilty one count of theft of mail, one count of bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. In entering the guilty plea, Chavez admitted that on Nov. 5, 2017, she pried open a mailbox at an apartment complex in southeast Albuquerque and stole mail from inside the mailbox. Chavez also admitted that on Oct. 24, 2017, she executed a scheme to defraud the Bank of Albuquerque by writing a check to an Albuquerque store that was drawn on an account at Bank of Albuquerque in the name of a victim and also fraudulently signed the check with the victim’s name. Chavez acknowledged that she used the victim’s name, address and bank account number without the victim’s permission in order to defraud the bank, the store and the victim.
Chavez has been in federal custody since her arrest and remains detained pending her sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled. At sentencing, Chavez faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison including a mandatory term of imprisonment of two years on the aggravated identity theft charge, which must be served consecutive to any other sentence imposed on the other charges.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigated this case, which was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremy Pena.