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Press Release

Former Brockport Fireman Pleads Guilty To Witness Tampering While Awaiting Sentencing For Mail Fraud And Forging Treasury Checks

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of New York

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, 50 of Brockport, NY, pleaded guilty to obstructing justice before U.S. District Judge David G. Larimer. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine or both.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig R. Gestring, who is handling the case, stated that federal law enforcement first encountered Ray because of his role in a mail fraud scheme involving forged United States treasury checks. In February 2015, the defendant was convicted of mail fraud and forging treasury checks. At that time, 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 got the checks mailed to him via the United States Postal Service at his Brockport home.

During that investigation, federal agents identified at least 13 area bank accounts controlled by the defendant under various names. Ray deposited the stolen Treasury checks 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. As a result of the defendant’s scheme to defraud, Ray obtained more than $400,000 to which he was not otherwise entitled.

While out of custody awaiting sentencing on that case, Ray filed a sentencing statement with the Court in May 2015. Among the items submitted to the Court was a character letter from a local resident who was attesting to the defendant’s character and truthfulness. However, it turned out that this letter was actually forged by Ray. Federal agents met with the witness who confirmed that he never wrote a letter in support of Ray, did not say the things written in the letter, and pointed out that many of the statements in the letter, including the spelling of the witnesses own name was wrong. Based on this, the United States filed a notice with the Court pointing out that the defendant submitted false material to the Court for sentencing. Ray received a copy of that statement the day it was filed.

Within hours of receiving that statement by the government, the defendant went out to the home of that witness, who is wheelchair bound and lives in an assisted living facility, and coerced him into submitting a false affidavit saying that he had actually written the letter to the Court. When Ray did this, he knew that the witness never wrote the original letter, and knew that he was submitting another false document to the Court. 

By doing this, Ray obstructed and impeded an official proceeding pending in the United States District for the Western District of New York. Further, the defendant’s actions resulted in the unnecessary expenditure of substantial governmental and Court resources. Ray did all this while he was on pre-trial release pending sentencing in the original fraud case. He was indicted in August, and was taken into federal custody where he has remained.

  Ray was a former Officer with the Brockport Fire Department when he was originally arrested for the mail fraud case involving the forged treasury checks.

The plea is the culmination of an investigation on the part of Inspectors from the United States Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Acting Inspector in Charge James Buthorn, 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 for both cases has been scheduled for January 21, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. before Judge Larimer.

Updated December 18, 2015