SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that two Joplin, Mo., residents have pleaded guilty in federal court, in separate but related cases, to possessing stolen mail and passing forged checks.
Larissa A. Brady, 32, and her boyfriend, Sheldon Michael Hunt, 32, both of Joplin, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David P. Rush to the charges contained in Dec. 8, 2015, federal indictments. Brady pleaded guilty today and Hunt pleaded guilty on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015.
Brady admitted she had been driving around southwest Missouri between March and June 2015, stealing mail from the mail boxes of businesses and residences to obtain personal information and checks. Brady was gathering information in order to eventually start printing checks but had not progressed to that point. She admitted to cashing the forged checks at various businesses, including Wal-Mart, in order to purchase items that would later be returned to obtain a cash refund. Brady admitted that she had written between $30,000 and $40,000 in stolen checks. Brady also admitted she had gone through approximately 12 check books, each containing 25 checks, which were forged and fraudulently passed at numerous businesses throughout the Joplin area.
Brady was confronted by law enforcement officers at a Joplin Wal-Mart store on June 8, 2015, after she attempted to make an $850 purchase using two different forged checks, which was denied, then returned later the same afternoon to make the same purchase using another forged check. Officers recovered numerous stolen checks, Missouri driver’s licenses, a Social Security card, and other forms of identification belonging to other individuals from Brady’s purse. Officers also searched Brady’s vehicle, where Hunt was waiting for her to return, and recovered numerous checks, credit cards, cash cards, and numerous forms of identification that had been stolen from 66 different individuals in the Joplin area.
Hunt admitted that he was aware Brady was using stolen checks that she would forge and use to make purchases of merchandise so the items could be returned for cash. Hunt admitted that he was involved in stealing mail at various locations in Newton and Jasper Counties, Mo. Hunt had not passed any of the stolen checks, but was well aware of Brady’s actions in passing the checks that he helped steal.
On June 11, 2015, Joplin police officers conducted a traffic stop of Hunt’s vehicle and Hunt was arrested for possession of illegal narcotics. During a search of the vehicle, officers located checkbooks and passports that were in the names of other individuals.
Under federal statutes, Brady and Hunt are each subject to a sentence of up to 15 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $500,000. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Carney. They were investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Joplin, Mo., Police Department.