YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Five Paterson residents were charged with swiping more than $118,000 in checks from mailboxes throughout Passaic County and laundering the proceeeds through personal bank accounts.
Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said the thefts included nearly $100,000 in unemployment checks from the state.
“These defendants are charged with systematically stealing unemployment checks right from the mailboxes of the victims, who were out of work and needed the checks to pay their bills and feed their families,” said Attorney General Chiesa. “Their alleged conduct is reprehensible.”
The New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau obtained a state grand jury indictment today charging each of the five with second-degree conspiracy and third-degree receiving stolen property.
The indictment says the crew at times followed mail carriers to private homes and then snatched the checks once they were deposited in mailboxes.
Between October 2008 and May 2010, it alleges, the defendants converted approximately $118,167 in stolen checks to cash by depositing them into various personal bank accounts.
The alleged ringleader, 25-year-old Raulin Lopez, paid his associates to use their bank accounts, the indictment says. The money was then withdrawn at ATM machines, it alleges.
In addition to $99,119 in stolen unemployment checks issued by the State of New Jersey, the thefts included $8,330 in U.S. Treasury checks and $2,176 in New Jersey Treasury checks, as well as checks from other public and private agencies, schools and businesses, Chiesa said.
In addition to Lopez, four others are named in the indictment: Enmanuel Rodriguez, 28; Sandy Rodriguez, 35 (no known relationship to Enmanuel Rodriguez); Amauris Monsanto, 42; and Danys Rosario, 38.
Lopez and Enmanuel Rodriguez are also charged with second-degree money laundering.
The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Passaic County, where the defendants will be ordered to appear at a later date for arraignment.
Lopez, Enmanuel Rodriguez and Sandy Rodriguez were previously arrested and are currently free on bail.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice teamed up for the probe and subsequent indictment.
Complaints first came in to the Postal Service about stolen unemployment checks, personal checks and other government payouts, Chiesa explained.
“The lead postal inspector on the case subsequently received reports from PNC Bank and JP Morgan Chase Bank that checks stolen in the Paterson area had allegedly been deposited into accounts of the defendants,” he said.
The inspection service then referred the case to state authorities.
Receiving credit this morning were by U.S. Postal Inspector George P. Hemmer, Detective Nelson Trujillo and retired Sgt. Robert Walker of the Division of Criminal Justice.
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