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Press Release

Florida Resident Sentenced to Nearly 3½ Years in Prison for Counterfeit Check Scheme that Used Account Info from Checks Stolen from Mailboxes

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

PITTSBURGH - A resident of Florida has been sentenced in federal court to three years and five months (41 months) in prison, to be followed by a two-year term of supervised release, and ordered to pay $962,840.47 on conviction of conspiracy to pass counterfeit checks and possession of stolen mail, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.

United States District Judge Marylyn J. Horan imposed the sentence on Calar Braxton a/k/a Vivian Hugo a/k/a Taylor Crimson, 45, of Orlando, Fla.

According to information presented to the court, Braxton and two conspirators flew to Pittsburgh in October 2017 and rented a motel room in North Fayette Township. Afterwards, the group stole outgoing mail from residential mailboxes and opened the mail. If the mail contained a check, they prepared counterfeit checks using the account information from the purloined check. They then used the counterfeit checks to purchase merchandise from stores located in and around the Mall at Robinson. The conspirators targeted national chains with the intention of obtaining a cash refund for ill-gotten merchandise at counterpart store located in another state. Braxton’s sentence under federal guidelines called for a term of imprisonment of between 41 and 51 months. Based on Braxton’s criminal history, which included over 20 fraud-related convictions, the government requested a sentence within the advisory range. Braxton requested a sentence of home detention and community service, claiming that such a sentence would be consistent the measures the United States Department of Justice and the United States Bureau of Prison have taken in light of the COVID-19 virus. At the sentencing hearing, the government opposed this request on the basis that Braxton, due to her risk of recidivism, would not qualify under the Bureau of Prisons’ relief measures.

Prior to imposing sentence, Judge Horan stated that Braxton had maintained a lifestyle of criminal behavior and denied her request.

Assistant United States Attorney Michael Leo Ivory prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.

United States Attorney Brady commended the United States Postal Inspection Service and North Fayette Township Police Department for the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of Braxton.

Updated April 2, 2020

Financial Fraud