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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 6, 2015

“Operation Check-Mate” Defendant Sentenced To Seven Years In Federal Prison In $800,000 Counterfeit Check Scheme





PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Ernest Kar, 34, of Providence, was sentenced on Tuesday to 84 months in federal prison for participating in a counterfeit check scheme that defrauded local banks of at least $800,000. Kar was convicted at trial on February 12, 2015, of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and three counts of bank fraud.

At sentencing, U.S. District Court Judge Mary M. Lisi also ordered Kar to serve a consecutive sentence of 9 months imprisonment for violating the terms of supervised release on a prior federal conviction in South Dakota for passing counterfeit checks. Additionally, Kar was ordered to serve a term of 5 years of supervised upon completion of his prison terms and to pay restitution in the amount of $532,152.

Kar’s sentences are 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.

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 room Kar was staying in at the Motel 6 in Warwick 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.
Kar is one of nine individuals charged for their participation in the fraudulent check-cashing scheme dubbed “Operation Check-Mate.”

Three co-defendants, Jerry Zeah, 25, Garty Togbasi, 28, and John Sumo, 28, all of Providence, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and are serving sentences of 30 months in federal prison. A fourth co-defendant, Allarick Hill, 37, of Pawtucket, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud is currently serving a sentence of 37 months in federal prison.

Four other co-defendants in this matter are being prosecuted on state charges in Rhode Island Superior Court.

The federal court cases were 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.

These charges were brought in connection with the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force was established to wage and aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. Attorney’s Offices, and state and local law enforcement partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets; and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Since fiscal year 2009, the Justice Department has filed over 18,000 financial fraud cases against more than 25,000 defendants.

For more information on the task force, please visit www.StopFraud.gov.

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Contact: 401-709-5357
USARI.Media@usdoj.gov

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Updated June 22, 2015