Upstate Residents Plead Guilty to Mail Theft Conspiracy
Columbia, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney Beth Drake stated today that John P. Garrett, age 35, of Simpsonville, and Benjamin G. Eller, age 30, of Simpsonville, pled guilty in federal court in Anderson, to a conspiracy to commit mail theft, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371. United States District Judge Timothy M. Cain, of Anderson, accepted the plea and will impose sentence after he has reviewed the presentence report which will be prepared by the U.S. Probation Office.
Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing established that the defendants stole mail in and around Greenville County in an effort to obtain bank account numbers, routing numbers, and identification information. Once in possession of this material they would create counterfeit checks and negotiate them to obtain money for methamphetamine.
Defendants often stole automobiles in order to steal mail and pass checks. This was done so that the tag would not come back to them if law enforcement or a citizen spotted them. Hundreds of pieces of stolen mail were recovered in this case along with checks already altered and made payable to defendants.
Ms. Drake stated the maximum penalty defendants can receive is a fine of $250,000 and/or imprisonment for 5 years, plus a special assessment of $100.
The case was investigated by agents of the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Bill Watkins of the Greenville office handled the case.