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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Twelve Members And Associates Of Brooklyn Gang Indicted For Committing Bank Fraud Involving More Than 350 Bank Accounts And More Than $1.5 Million In Loss

            Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Raymond R. Parmer, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), Robert J. Sica, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Office of the United States Secret Service (“USSS”), Philip R. Bartlett, Inspector-in-Charge of the New York Office of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (“USPIS”),  and William J. Bratton, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), today announced the unsealing of an Indictment charging twelve defendants, all of whom are members or associates of the Van Dyke Money Gang, with committing bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.  Eight defendants were taken into custody today.  The eight defendants who were arrested today will be presented and arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald L. Ellis later today.  Four defendants remain at large.  The case has been assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Lewis A. Kaplan.          

            Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Today’s allegations suggest that members of street gangs, like the Van Dyke Money Gang, have expanded their criminal repertoire to include white collar crimes like bank fraud and identity theft.  I want to thank our law enforcement partners at HSI, the Secret Service, the Postal Inspection Service and the NYPD for the great work in this case.”

            HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Raymond R. Parmer, Jr., stated: “Today’s arrests dismantle a gang that allegedly used bank fraud and identity theft to line their pockets with cash using a scheme that cost New York banks over $1.5 million dollars.  HSI will continue to use every tool at our disposal to combat financial crimes that support gangs and their illegal activity.”

            U.S. Secret Service Special Agent-in-Charge Robert J, Sica stated: “This case demonstrates the effectiveness of multijurisdictional partnerships in the dismantling of criminal enterprises that inflict damage to our nation’s financial infrastructure and the safeguarding of our citizens’ identity.  This investigation and the resulting indictment should serve as a warning to criminals that law enforcement will not cease to pursue them.”

            USPIS Inspector in Charge Philip R. Bartlett said, “This was a straight up larceny scheme where fraudsters allegedly used stolen Postal Money Orders to steal from financial institutions through the use of hundreds of bank accounts.  Gang members underestimated the resolve of federal law enforcement working together to bring those responsible before the court to answer for their crimes.”                                      

            Police Commissioner William J. Bratton said: “Through collaboration with our partners, an organization whose alleged purpose was to lie, cheat and steal was dismantled and taken off the streets of New York this morning.  I want to thank the investigators, agents and prosecutors involved in this long term investigation for bringing those responsible to justice.  ”

            As alleged in the Indictment unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:[1]

            The Van Dyke Money Gang (“VDMG”) is an organization composed of principally young men aged 20 to 30 years old.  The VDMG operates primarily out of a housing project called the Van Dyke Houses, located at 370 Blake Avenue, in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York.

            From in or about December 2013 up to and including in or about June 2015, the VDMG conducted a fraudulent money order scheme (the “Money Order Scheme”) at banks in the New York area, specifically, in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, and along the east coast, as far north as Boston, Massachusetts, and as far south as Washington, D.C.  Other individuals who were not members of the VDMG also participated in the Money Order Scheme.

            In furtherance of the Money Order Scheme, members of the VDMG and others recruited bank account holders and then used the accounts of those individuals to deposit fraudulent money orders.  Members of the VDMG and others then withdrew the money from the bank accounts.  The Money Order Scheme entailed, among other things, fraudulently obtaining blank Postal Money Orders and Western Union Money Orders.  Members of the VDMG and others printed a specific dollar amount, usually under $1,000, onto the money orders and then deposited those fraudulent money orders into bank accounts.

            ANGEL VILLALBA, a/k/a “Ace,” ANTHONY FABERS, a/k/a “Ant,” CURTIS CONGRESS, a/k/a “Murda,” MELIEK SANDERS, a/k/a “Mickey,” JUNIOR ANTWI, a/k/a “OG Rob,” GEORGE FANDAL, a/k/a “Panama,” ISAAC GONZALEZ, a/k/a “K-Tone,” TYRONE BAKER, a/k/a “Pumpkin,” STANLEY CURRIE, a/k/a “Stan,” LEROY SMITH, a/k/a “Pops,” ERIC BALLINGER, a/k/a “Boogs Von Swavy,” and TERELL STEWART, a/k/a “Lil Biscuit,” the defendants, are members of the VDMG and/or participated in the Money Order Scheme.

            In furtherance of the Money Order Scheme, the defendants and others have used more than 350 bank accounts.  The loss amount to the banks affected by the Money Order Scheme exceeds $1.5 million.

*                      *                     *

            The defendants are each charged with one count of conspiring to commit bank fraud and one count of bank fraud, each of which carries a maximum term of 30 years in prison, as well as one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory consecutive sentence of two years in prison.  The Indictment also seeks forfeiture of crime proceeds.

            The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.

            A chart containing the names, ages, and residence information of the defendants who were arrested today is below.

            Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of HSI, the USSS, the USPIS, and the NYPD, and also thanked the New York City Department of Investigation’s Office of the Inspector General for the New York City Housing Authority for their assistance.

            This case is being handled by the Office’s Violent and Organized Crime Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Jessica Lonergan and Rebekah Donaleski are in charge of the prosecution.

            The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 

NAME

AGE

RESIDENCE

Angel Villalba, a/k/a “Ace”

28

Brooklyn

Anthony Fabers, a/k/a “Ant”

32

Brooklyn

Meliek Sanders, a/k/a “Mickey”

30

Brooklyn

George Fandal, a/k/a “Panama”

32

Brooklyn

Isaac Gonzalez, a/k/a “K-Tone”

27

Brooklyn

Leroy Smith, a/k/a “Pops”

24

Brooklyn

Eric Ballinger, a/k/a “Boogs Von Swavy”

26

Brooklyn

Terell Stewart, a/k/a “Lil Biscuit”

23

Brooklyn

 

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment, and the description of the Indictment set forth herein, constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Press Release Number: 
15-179
Updated July 14, 2015