Feds Focus on Mail Theft Based Identity Theft Crimes during Busy Holiday Shipping Season
Federal Prosecution of Prolific Mail Thieves can Result in Mandatory Minimum Sentences
Five people have been charged federally in five separate mail theft cases brought in joint effort with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to combat identity theft, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. Mail and package theft is a heightened problem in the busy holiday shipping season. These cases have taken some of the worst offenders off the street over the last few months. Some of those charged have already entered guilty pleas, and face mandatory minimum sentences for aggravated identity theft.
“Over the last several months we have worked with investigators from the Postal Inspection Service to federally prosecute mail thieves who repeatedly steal from homes, apartment buildings and other locations around western Washington,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. “These cases should serve as a warning that there are significant consequences for those who steal mail and victimize so many people.”
“The arrest and prosecution of prolific mail thieves is a top priority of the Postal Inspection Service,” said Inspector in Charge Tony Galetti.
Some of the cases pursued in this initiative include:
CHARLLETTE MILLER, 35, of Olympia, Washington pleaded guilty to access device fraud and will be sentenced in March 2018. MILLER used stolen mail, including drivers’ licenses to open bank and credit accounts in the names of her victims and then ran up thousands of dollars in fraudulent charges.
JESSE FRANKLIN DENHAM, 27, is scheduled for trial in January 2018 on an eight-count indictment charging bank fraud, access device fraud and aggravated identity theft. Using stolen mail, DENHAM allegedly opened bank and credit accounts, and forged balance transfer checks associated with the accounts. When arrested, DENHAM had mail from more than 50 victims in his car. DENHAM remains in custody.
SHAWLEE GEIGER, 41, of Seattle, is scheduled for trial in June 2018 on an eight-count indictment charging her with multiple counts of bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. GEIGER allegedly used stolen checks to inflate the balances of bank accounts she controlled and then quickly withdrew cash before the bank was notified that the checks were invalid.
DENNIE DENG, 27, of Auburn, Washington is scheduled for trial in March 2018 on a four-count indictment charging him with bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. DENG allegedly used stolen checks to inflate the balance of his bank account and then withdrew cash. In some instances he altered the stolen checks to further increase the amount of money fraudulently deposited in his account.
TRAVIS SICKLOVAN, 34, pleaded guilty in October to bank fraud, aggravated identity theft and possession of stolen mail. SICKLOVAN was arrested in November 2016, in a Snohomish County hotel with stolen mail from more than 60 victims. SICKLOVAN used the stolen mail to make and cash fraudulent checks and to obtain fraudulent credit cards.
Defendants convicted of aggravated identity theft face a mandatory minimum two years in prison in addition to any other sentence imposed based on other convictions.
The charges contained in a criminal complaint or indictment are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The Seattle Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service employs a multi-faceted approach to address mail theft in western Washington. Using prevention and investigative efforts to combat mail theft, postal inspectors work with local, state and federal agencies across the area. Targeted enforcement data is used to identify, arrest and prosecute the mail thieves who are having the biggest impact on the community. The inspection service also seeks out ways to improve the security of postal facilities and mailboxes leading the effort to secure US Mail to prevent access to would-be thieves. Lastly, the Postal Inspection Service educates the public on ways to mitigate their risk of mail theft and to report it in a timely manner when it does happen.
These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Andre Penalver, Stephen Hobbs and Seungjae Lee.