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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Rhode Island

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 13, 2015

“Operation Check-Mate” Defendant Convicted In Federal Court In $800,000 Counterfeit Check Scheme





PROVIDENCE, R.I. – A federal court jury on Thursday convicted Ernest Kar, 34, of Providence, with participating in a counterfeit check scheme that defrauded local banks of at least $800,000, announced by United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha; Ted A. Arruda, Resident Agent in Charge of the Providence Office of the U.S. Secret Service; Warwick Police Chief Colonel Stephen M. McCartney; Providence Police Chief Colonel Hugh T. Clements, Jr.; and Colonel Steven G. O’DonnellSuperintendent of the Rhode Island State Police.

The jury convicted Kar of one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and three counts of bank fraud. Kar faces statutory penalties of up to 30 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $1,000,000 on each count when he is sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Mary M. Lisi on May 1, 2015. Kar is one of nine individuals charged in U.S. District Court in Providence or in Rhode Island state court for their participation in the fraudulent check-cashing scheme, which was dubbed “Operation Check-Mate.”

According to the government’s evidence presented at trial, between October 2010 and January 2014, Kar and his co-conspirators created counterfeit checks via computer, recruited account holders who agreed to have the fake checks deposited into their accounts in exchange for cash, and then made cash withdrawals from the accounts. Many of the counterfeit checks were drawn on the accounts of several legitimate businesses.

On December 16, 2013, during a joint federal and state law enforcement investigation into the fraudulent check scheme, Warwick Police discovered items used to create counterfeit checks, including check stock, a laptop computer, a printer and counterfeit checks, inside a motel room Kar was staying in and inside his vehicle. As a result of the investigation, including forensic examinations of the items seized by Warwick Police, a federal arrest warrant was issued for Kar. He was arrested in the Western District of Kentucky on April 28, 2014, and ordered detained and returned to Rhode Island.

Three co-defendants in this matter, Jerry Zeah, 25, Garty Togbasi, 28, and John Sumo, 28, all of Providence, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and each have been sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. A fourth co-defendant, Allarick Hill, 36, of Pawtucket, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and is awaiting sentencing.

Four additional co-defendants in this matter have been or are being prosecuted on state charges in Rhode Island Superior Court.

The federal court cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lee H. Vilker and Sandra R. Hebert.

" Operation Check-Mate" was jointly investigated by the United States Secret Service, Warwick Police Department, Providence Police Department, and Rhode Island State Police.

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Updated June 22, 2015