Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Eight Defendants Charged In Manhattan Federal Court With Bank Fraud And Mail Theft Conspiracy In The Bronx

  Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Philip R. Bartlett, Inspector-in-Charge of the New York Office of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (“USPIS”), today announced the unsealing of an Indictment charging a total of eight defendants with engaging in mail theft and bank fraud conspiracies in the Bronx, New York. Five defendants were arrested today, and two defendants remain at large; the eighth will voluntarily appear later this week for arraignment. The five defendants who are in custody will be presented and arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn later today. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Gregory H. Woods.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “These eight defendants allegedly hatched a scheme to steal mail from Bronx residents, specifically targeting mail they thought would contain checks or money orders, then depositing stolen funds into their own and others’ accounts. Now, thanks to the work of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, these alleged mail fraudsters have been delivered to the criminal justice system.”
USPIS Inspector-in-Charge Philip R. Bartlett said: “When I think of the brazenness of these individuals to allegedly steal U.S. Mail coupled with their total disregard for the financial well-being of the communities impacted by their crimes, it takes the word insolent to new heights. Let today’s arrests serve as an example to those who believe they can steal from the US Postal Service and get away with it. Postal Inspectors and their law enforcement partners will find you, arrest you and bring you to justice for your crimes against the US Postal Service and their customers. That is something you can take to the bank.”
As alleged in the Indictment unsealed today in Manhattan federal court[1]:
Since 2015, USPIS and other local and federal agencies, including the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), Homeland Security Investigations, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, have been investigating mail theft from mailboxes in the Bronx, New York. The investigation has revealed that individuals steal mail by either illicitly obtaining mail box keys or by “fishing.” Fishing involves inserting homemade mail theft devices into mailboxes located on street corners or other publicly accessible places. After gaining access to the mail in the mailbox, a thief typically will remove any mail that appears to contain checks or money orders. During the beginning and end of the month when many people mail checks for rent and bills, a thief can steal checks worth tens of thousands of dollars in a single night.
After perpetrators fish checks and money orders out of mailboxes, they sell the checks and money orders to others, remove the payees’ names by “washing” the checks and money orders, or simply deposit the checks and money orders into a bank account. In various iterations of the scheme, those bank accounts have belonged to the mail thieves, to complicit accountholders, or to unsuspecting third parties whose debits cards or personal identifying information has been stolen.
Since late 2015, USPIS and NYPD enforcement operations have resulted in over 50 state arrests of individuals in an area of the Bronx in the vicinity of Claremont Park for theft of mail, and over $750,000 in checks and money orders has been traced to these mail theft schemes. Between May 2015 and at least January 2017, BRIAN MARTE, a/k/a “Trini Rabiia,” ERICKSON BATISTA, a/k/a “Niike Batista,” JUNIOR TAVERAS, a/k/a “Tuh Relambio,” ANGEL ARISTY, a/k/a “Frekiitho Lindo Colon,” LUIS ROSADO, a/k/a “El Menolsito Tejada,” EOSCATERYS POLANCO, BRAYAN RODRIGUEZ, a/k/a “New Black El Paisano,” and RONARDO BAEZ, a/k/a “Tuchokoo Baez,” the defendants, each participated in these related schemes to steal mail and deposit stolen checks and money orders using other individuals’ debit cards.
Each of the defendants is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison; one count of conspiracy to commit mail theft, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison; and one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory consecutive sentence of two years in prison. MARTE is also charged with one count of mail theft, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. The charges also carry a maximum fine of $1 million, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. The statutory maximum sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencings of the defendants would be determined by the judge.
A chart containing the names, ages, and residences of the defendants is below.
Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the United States Postal Inspection Service, Homeland Security Investigations, the New York City Police Department, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
These cases are being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Catherine Geddes and Stephanie Lake are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Brian Marte 20
Bronx, NY
Erickson Batista 24
Bronx, NY
Junior Taveras 19
Bronx, NY
Angel Aristy 18
Bronx, NY
Luis Rosado 19
Bronx, NY
Eoscaterys Polanco 23
Bronx, NY
Brayan Rodriguez 23
Bronx, NY
[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment and the description of the Indictment set forth herein constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

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