Greenbelt, Maryland – Anthony Pelt, age 53, of Oxon Hill, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit wire fraud as well as being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.
The guilty plea was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner and Special Agent in Charge James R. Mancuso of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore; and Colonel Woodrow W. Jones III, Superintendent of the Maryland State Police.
According to his plea agreement between March 2018 and July 2019, Pelt and a co-conspirator obtained the names, addresses, and bank information of over ten victim retailers to manufacture fraudulent checks in the names of the victim retailers.
As part of the scheme to defraud, Pelt and a co-conspirator returned merchandise for cash after purchasing items with bogus drivers’ licenses and fraudulently manufactured checks.
Over the course of the conspiracy, Pelt and his co-conspirator made over 75 transactions and caused a loss of over $224,000 in losses to victim retailers. Pelt obtained at least $154,000 as part of the conspiracy.
As stated in the plea agreement, on February 22, 2019, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Pelt’s residence and a storage unit controlled by Pelt in Oxon Hill, Maryland. Officers recovered Pelt’s cell phone, a machine used to create fraudulent checks, several receipts, stock checks, as well as a large cache of items purchased from victim retailers. Law enforcement seized over 67 items from Pelt’s Oxon Hill, Maryland storage facility including 18 cases of vinyl flooring, 39 white arabesque polished marble floor and wall tiles, eight cases of carpet tile, various home improvement items, and checks used at victim retail stores.
Law enforcement also seized two ghost guns from Pelt’s possession (firearms lacking a known manufacturer and serial number), an AR-style .223 caliber rifle and a 9mm handgun. Additionally, officers found Pelt in possession of one 8-round 9mm magazine, one 30-round 5.56X45 magazine, approximately 117 rounds of 9mm ammunition, and approximately 241 rounds of 5.56X45 ammunition. Prior to February 22, 2019, Pelt was previously convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, and his civil rights had not been restored.
Officers also matched several of Pelt’s clothing items to the clothing seen in surveillance footage during the fraudulent transactions.
A subsequent forensic review of Pelt’s cell phone revealed evidence of check fraud including photographs of checks, account numbers, and routing numbers that were used to make transactions at victim retail stores.
As part of his plea agreement, Pelt will be required to pay $224,000 in restitution.
Pelt faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and a maximum of 10 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release for being a felon in possession of a firearm. U.S. District Judge George J. Hazel has scheduled sentencing for September 20, 2021 at 10 a.m.
Acting United States Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner commended the HSI and the Maryland State Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Lenzner thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Dwight Draughon and Erin B. Pulice who are prosecuting the case.
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