NEWARK, N.J (STL.News) Five people have been charged for their participation in a scheme to engage in bank fraud, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced today.
Jose Lopez Blanco, 22; Jesus Emilio Ruiz Ramirez, 21; Cori Mojica Caminero, 25; Marisol Gomez, 34; and Daury DeLeon, 24, all of the Bronx, New York, are each charged by superseding complaint with one count of bank fraud conspiracy. Blanco was additionally charged with one count of mail theft and one count of unlawful possession of a postal key.
Blanco and two other individuals were charged in December 2019 with one count of conspiracy to commit mail theft and one count of conspiracy to commit unlawful possession of a postal key. According to that complaint, Blanco had been observed by law enforcement officers using a U.S. Postal Service (USPS) arrow key (a special master key maintained by USPS employees) to gain unauthorized access to, and steal mail from, a USPS mail collection box in Newark. Blanco remains on pretrial release on those charges and will make his initial court appearance by video conference later this week.
Ruiz Ramirez, Caminero, and Gomez were arrested today and are scheduled to appear by videoconference before the U.S. Magistrate Judge Leda Dunn Wettre this afternoon. DeLeon remains at large.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From October 2018 through December 2019, postal inspectors investigated a group of individuals for stealing checks and money orders from the mail; altering those financial instruments; depositing them into bank accounts; and withdrawing the proceeds before the victims discovered the fraud.
The investigation revealed that following various thefts from mail collections boxes, the defendants and others deposited various stolen and altered checks and money orders into accounts that they controlled, as well as accounts controlled by other conspirators. The defendants and conspirators withdrew the stolen proceeds shortly thereafter.
As a result, the defendants and conspirators deposited more than $250,000 worth of stolen financial instruments into certain bank accounts, some of which were opened solely for the purposes of receiving and depositing the stolen financial instruments. The defendants and their conspirators were captured on bank video surveillance footage, on at least 50 occasions engaging in fraudulent transactions in these accounts.
The count of mail theft carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the pecuniary gain to the defendant or loss to the victim, whichever is greater. The count of unlawful possession of a postal key carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the pecuniary gain to the defendant or loss to the victim, whichever is greater. The count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a fine of $1 million.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Newark Division, under the direction of Acting Inspector in Charge Raimundo Marrero; special agents of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jason J. Molina in Newark; the Jersey City Police Department, under the direction of Public Safety Director James Shea; the New York City Department of Investigation – Office of the Inspector General, the New York City Housing Authority, under the direction of New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Margaret Garnett; New York City Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Dermot Shea; the Newark Police Department, under the direction of Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose; and the Roselle Park, New Jersey Police Department, under the direction of Chief of Police Daniel J. McCaffery, with the investigation leading to the charges.
The government is represented by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason P. Garelick and Assistant U.S. Attorney Cassye Cole of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Newark.
The charges and allegations in the superseding complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.