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Justice News

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

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Downstate Man Pleads Guilty For His Role In Identity Theft Scam

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

BUFFALO, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Michael Wright, 56, of New York, NY, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. The charges carry a minimum penalty of two years in prison, a maximum of 22 years, and a $500,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jonathan P. Cantil and Stephanie Lamarque, who are handling the case, stated that December 2016 and September 2018, the defendant conspired with Jeriel Slay, Angela Slay, Sirr Wright, and others to defraud multiple victims. As a part of their scheme, Jeriel and Angela Slay, who are siblings, stole the identities of unsuspecting individuals and created fictitious Limited Liability Companies (LLCs), with company names indicating ownership by the victims. The defendants then opened bank accounts under the names of the LLCs and fraudulently transferred money from a victim’s actual bank account to the LLC bank account.  

For example, Jeriel Slay fraudulently obtained Victim 1’s name, address, birthdate, social security number, and other information, and then opened an LLC, and a bank account in the name of the fraudulent LLC. Jeriel Slay then contacted Victim 1’s legitimate financial institution and transferred money from Victim 1’s legitimate account via wire transfer to the fraudulent LLC bank account. Jeriel Slay, using device-making equipment, then created fraudulent driver’s licenses, fraudulent utility bills, and other identification documents in the name of Victim 1. The fraudulent driver’s license had Victim 1’s information but Michael Wright’s, image on the card. Using these fraudulent identification documents, Wright went to the bank that serviced the fraudulent LLC bank account and withdrew the funds from that fraudulent account. Wright executed this scheme against approximately 10 victims, one of whom resides in the Western District of New York. The financial loss totaled $161,100.

Charges remain pending against co-defendants Jeriel Slay, Angela Slay, and Sirr Wright. The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The plea is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Buffalo Division, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Gary Loeffert.

Sentencing is scheduled for October 10, 2019, at 12:30 p.m. before Judge Arcara.

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Financial Fraud
Identity Theft
Updated June 13, 2019