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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 11, 2016

North Carolina Man Pleads Guilty to Check Fraud Scheme

Mario Clinton Conspired with Others to Cash Stolen or Altered Checks

LYNCHBURG, VIRGINIA – A North Carolina man, who conspired with others to make money by cashing checks that had been stolen or altered, pled guilty yesterday to federal conspiracy and aggravated identity theft charges, United States Attorney John P. Fishwick Jr. announced.

Mario LaShawn Clinton, 39, of Mount Holly, North Carolina, pled guilty Wednesday afternoon in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Lynchburg to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and related offenses against the United States and two counts of aggravated identity theft.

“Mr. Clinton, and those he conspired with, used a variety of tools and techniques to alter checks and steal money from unsuspecting individuals and businesses,” United States Attorney Fishwick said today. “We will continue to be vigilant in holding accountable those who commit frauds against our banking system, individuals and the United States.”

According to evidence presented at yesterday’s guilty plea hearing by Assistant United States Attorney Laura Day Rottenborn and Special Assistant United States Attorney Kari Munro, Clinton, and others he conspired with, agreed to help each other make money by cashing checks that were stolen and altered. Typically, members of the conspiracy, including Clinton, stole checks from the mail in and around business locations, including corporate office parks and other business districts.

Clinton, and other members of the conspiracy, altered the stolen checks, or caused them to be altered, to reflect a new payee name, and in some instances, an increased amount. Members of the conspiracy used razor blades, erasers, typewriters and other tools to alter the checks. Clinton purchased and disposed of typewriters frequently in order to dispose of key evidence of his crimes.

In addition, Clinton and other members of the conspiracy recruited individuals to cash the fraudulent checks at issuing banks. Typically the conspiracy used women for this role, however men were used as check cashers on occasion. The conspiracy primarily took place in the Western District of Virginia and Western District of North Carolina, however, members of the conspiracy did make check cashing trips to locations as far away as Pennsylvania, Missouri and Tennessee.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office and the Mount Holly, North Carolina Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Laura Day Rottenborn and Special Assistant United States Attorney Kari Munro prosecuted the case for the United States.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Updated August 11, 2016