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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 26, 2018

Eight Men Sentenced In Manhattan Federal Court For Their Roles In Bronx Mail Theft Conspiracy

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that eight defendants have been sentenced to prison terms by United States District Judge Gregory H. Woods for their participation in a long-running scheme to steal mail from Bronx mailboxes.  All eight defendants previously pled guilty before Judge Woods.  Between May 2015 and at least January 2017, BRIAN MARTE, a/k/a “Trini Rabiia,” ERICKSON BATISTA, a/k/a “Niike Batista,” JUNIOR TAVERAS, a/k/a “Tuh Relambio,” ANGEL ARISTY, a/k/a “Frekiitho Lindo Colon,” LUIS ROSADO, a/k/a “El Menolsito Tejada,” EOSCATERYS POLANCO, BRAYAN RODRIGUEZ, a/k/a “New Black El Paisano,” and RONARDO BAEZ, a/k/a “Tuchokoo Baez,” the defendants, each participated in a scheme to steal mail and deposit stolen checks and money orders using other individuals’ debit cards. 

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “These defendants ‘fished’ for checks and money orders from U.S. Postal Service mailboxes like shooting fish in a barrel, and in doing so caused serious harm to Bronx residents.  As a result of their crimes, the defendants have been delivered to the criminal justice system and will now serve prison sentences.”

According to the Indictment filed in Manhattan federal court, as well as previous court filings and statements made in public court proceedings:

Since 2015, U.S. Postal Inspection Service (“USPIS”) and other local and federal agencies, including the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), Homeland Security Investigations, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, have been investigating mail theft from mailboxes in the Bronx, New York.  The investigation has revealed that individuals steal mail either by illicitly obtaining mail box keys or by “fishing.”  Fishing involves inserting homemade mail theft devices into mailboxes located on street corners or other publicly accessible places.  After gaining access to the mail in the mailbox, a thief typically will remove any mail that appears to contain checks or money orders.  During the beginning and end of the month, when many people mail checks for rent and bills, a thief can steal checks worth tens of thousands of dollars in a single night. 

After perpetrators fish checks and money orders out of mailboxes, they sell the checks and money orders to others, remove the payees’ names by “washing” the checks and money orders, or simply deposit the checks and money orders into a bank account.  In various iterations of the scheme, those bank accounts have belonged to the mail thieves, to complicit accountholders, or to unsuspecting third parties whose debits cards or personal identifying information have been stolen. 

Since late 2015, USPIS and NYPD enforcement operations have resulted in over 50 state arrests of individuals for theft of mail in the Claremont Park area of the Bronx, and over $750,000 in checks and money orders has been traced to these mail theft schemes.  The eight defendants sentenced by Judge Woods each participated in these related schemes.  Additionally, MARTE illegally possessed a defaced firearm.

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POLANCO, 24, of the Bronx, New York, was sentenced by Judge Woods on July 25, 2018, to a total term of 24 months in prison, and five years of supervised release. 

BATISTA, 26, of the Bronx, New York, was sentenced by Judge Woods on May 18, 2018, to a total term of 30 months in prison, and three years of supervised release. 

RODRIGUEZ, 24, of the Bronx, New York, was sentenced by Judge Woods on May 16, 2018, to a total term of seven months in prison, and three years of supervised release. 

ROSADO, 21, of the Bronx, New York, was sentenced by Judge Woods on April 17, 2018, to a total term of six months in prison, and three years of supervised release. 

MARTE, 21, of the Bronx, New York, was sentenced by Judge Woods on April 5, 2018, to a total term of 27 months in prison, and three years of supervised release.

TAVERAS, 20, of the Bronx, New York, was sentenced by Judge Woods on March 27, 2018, to a total term of 24 months in prison, and one year of supervised release. 

ARISTY, 20, of the Bronx, New York, was sentenced by Judge Woods on March 26, 2018, to a total term of 11 months in prison, and three years of supervised release.

BAEZ, 22, of the Bronx, New York, was sentenced by Judge Woods on March 19, 2018, to a total term of six months in prison, and three years of supervised release. 

In addition to the prison terms, Judge Woods also ordered that the defendants pay over $150,000 in restitution to victims of the offenses.

Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative efforts of the USPIS and NYPD.

This case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Catherine Ghosh and Stephanie Lake are in charge of the prosecution.

Topic(s): 
Consumer Protection
Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 
18-260
Updated July 26, 2018