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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 26, 2015

Brockport Man Pleads Guilty To Mail Fraud And Forging Treasury Checks

CONTACT: Barbara Burns
PHONE: (716) 843-5817
FAX:  (716) 551-3051


ROCHESTER, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Steven Ray, 49 of Brockport, NY, pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and one count of forging treasury checks before U.S. Magistrate Judge Marian W. Payson. The mail fraud charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, or both. Forging treasury checks carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, or both.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig R. Gestring, who is handling the case, stated that Ray admitted to cashing more than 120 forged United States Treasury Checks worth more than $400,000. The checks were stolen from the New York City Area as well as from other parts of the United States. Ray would get the stolen checks mailed to him via the United States Postal Service at his Brockport home.

A review of United States Postal Service records confirmed that between March 2013 and August 2013, at least 20 Express Mail pieces addressed from Lithonia, GA had been delivered to Ray's Brockport residence. The defendant told investigators that he had the packages addressed to his adult daughter, claiming that someone needed to sign for them during the day, however, Postal records showed that none of the Express Mail pieces involved actually required a signature for delivery.

During the investigation, federal agents identified at least 13 area bank accounts controlled by the defendant under various names. The defendant would take the stolen Treasury Checks he received by mail and then deposit them across these accounts. Many of the checks belonged to people who received Social Security payments, tax refunds, and other money drawn from the United States Treasury to help the intended recipients.

One stolen $33,000 check, deposited by Ray in May 2013, was meant as a retirement disbursement for a woman in California. When questioned by investigators, the defendant claimed that he got the check as a down payment for the sale of some local property to a woman he had never met who came into his store one day. Ray told the bank a different story for why he was depositing this check, and claimed that he was friends with the woman named on the check and claimed it was for the purchase of a different piece of property than that which he told investigators. However, when investigators tracked the victim down and interviewed her, she denied knowing the defendant or any of his related businesses. She told law enforcement that she never received her check, never endorsed her check, never deposited her check into the defendant’s account, and never authorized anyone else to do so. She did not buy any property from the defendant or anyone else in Western New York.

As a result of the defendant’s scheme to defraud, Ray obtained more than $405,000 to which he was not otherwise entitled. During the investigation, federal agents were able to recover almost $100,000 in stolen funds, which was returned to the rightful recipients.

The plea is the culmination of an investigation on the part of Inspectors from the United States Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Shelly Binkowski, Inspector In Charge of the Boston Division, and Special Agents of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, under the Direction of Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office, Shantelle P. Kitchen.

Sentencing is scheduled for May 26, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. before U.S. District Court Judge David G. Larimer.

Updated February 27, 2015