Nixa Woman Sentenced for Counterfeit Check, Mail Theft, Identity Theft Conspiracy
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a Nixa, Mo., woman has been sentenced in federal court for participating in a conspiracy to create and cash more than $134,000 in counterfeit checks in a three-state area. The scheme involved stealing mail from businesses in Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma in order to create counterfeit business checks, then using stolen identities to cash the counterfeit checks.
Lisa Strait-Destefano, 39, of Nixa, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard E. Dorr on Monday, Feb. 25, 2013 to five years and seven months in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Strait-Destefano to pay $76,295 in restitution.
Strait-Destefano pleaded guilty on Dec. 20, 2011 to conspiracy, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. Strait-Destefano and co-defendant Derrick Haggard, also known as "Disco," 35, of Nixa, led the conspiracy to create counterfeit checks using original checks and other material that the group stole from private mailboxes in Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma. During the time of the conspiracy, the group was successfully able to pass $61,335 in counterfeit checks at financial institutions in Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma. The group unsuccessfully attempted to pass an additional $73,111 in counterfeit checks.
On Jan. 13, 2012, Haggard was convicted at trial of all 27 counts charging him with leading a conspiracy to commit bank fraud, create and cash counterfeit checks and steal mail from July 1 to Oct. 25, 2010. He was sentenced on July 31, 2012, to 18 years in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Haggard to pay $76,295 in restitution, for which he is jointly and severally liable with Strait-Destefano.
Derrick Haggard recruited individuals, including co-defendant Dietrich Haggard, also known as "D-Ball," 31, of St. Robert, Mo., to steal mail from private mailboxes. Dietrich Haggard, along with others associated with the scheme, primarily stole mail from business locations, looking for mail which contained original checks so that the original checks could be counterfeited. They provided those checks to Derrick Haggard and Strait-Destefano, who created the counterfeit checks.
Derrick Haggard recruited persons to take the counterfeit checks to financial institutions or commercial establishments and attempt to cash them. Strait-Destefano directed Derrick Haggard and others as to which businesses to approach, based upon her experiences in the banking industry. Strait-Destefano and Derrick Haggard provided the check passers with false identification documents, which used the identity of real persons without their permission to match the names placed on the counterfeit checks.
Dietrich Haggard was sentenced to three years in federal prison without parole after pleading guilty to his role in the conspiracy.
Strait-Destefano is the eighth and final defendant to be sentenced in this case. Co-defendant Zachary Skinner, 25, of Springfield, Mo., was sentenced to 17 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to his role in the conspiracy. Co-defendant Paul Douglas, Jr., 45, of Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo., pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison without parole and ordered to pay $35,601 in restitution. Christopher Quale, 26, of Saint Robert, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 16 months in federal prison without parole and ordered to pay $6,618 in restitution.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall D. Eggert. It was investigated by the U.S. Postal Service, the U.S. Secret Service, the police departments of Springfield, Branson, Hollister, St. Robert, Carthage, Nixa, Troy, Strafford, Union, Washington, Linn, Lebanon, and Neosho in Missouri, the Tulsa, Okla., Police Department, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Christian County, Mo., Sheriff's Department, the Greene County, Mo., Sheriff=s Department, the Fayetteville, Ark., Police Department, the Arkansas State Police, and the Crawford County, Kan., Sheriff=s Department.