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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 26, 2015

Houston Women Guilty Of Conspiring To Commit Bank Fraud

HOUSTON - Tonya Beverly, 39, and Leatrice Reynaud, 44, both of Houston, have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and bank fraud, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson.

Beverly and Reynaud admitted they conspired together to create and access false and fraudulent USAA Federal Savings Bank accounts using stolen personal identification information, including names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers. Beverly admitted she stole the personal information from the patient files of health care providers with whom she had been employed.

In less than two years, the conspirators created 33 false and fraudulent USAA accounts and transferred approximately $205,719 into those accounts from the real bank accounts of at least 35 individuals. Several of the victims mentioned today were elderly, including one who was born in 1922 and another who was born in 1929, and another victim was caring for her terminally ill husband when the crime occurred. The amount of loss for each victim varied - $23,800 was taken out of the account of the victim born in 1922, while $24,000 was taken from another victim.

At least 16 different banks were affected by the defendants’ actions. As part of the fraud scheme, the conspirators used homes that were listed for sale or vacant as the recipient addresses for debit cards mailed by USAA for the false and fraudulent accounts. The conspirators also used phones registered in the name of another victim of identity theft to access the fraudulent USAA accounts and perform account functions.

Another co-conspirator - Demetria Jones, 40, who plead guilty in relation to the conspiracy in August of last year - provided her address for the receipt of USAA debit cards from the fraudulent accounts.  The USAA debit cards in the victims’ real names were used to withdraw cash from ATM machines, including machines located in Hawaii and Texas and to make purchases, including plane tickets to Los Angeles, California for the defendants and the children of one of the defendants.

As part of their plea agreements, the conspirators have agreed to forfeiture of $106,383.51 in unlawful proceeds to the United States.

Beverly and Reynaud were permitted to remain on bond pending sentencing which has been set for May 29, 2015, in front of U.S. District Judge Gray Miller. Jones has also been on bond pending her sentencing which is scheduled for April 24, 2015.

The possible punishment for a conviction of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and bank fraud is up to 30 years in federal prison, a fine of up to $1 million or both.

The investigation leading in this case was conducted by the United States Secret Service. Assistant United States Attorney Julie Redlinger prosecuted the case.

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Updated April 30, 2015