NEWARK, N.J. – An Essex County, New Jersey, man today admitted his role in a conspiracy to steal check books and credit cards from the mail, deposit fraudulent checks, including pandemic relief checks, and use stolen credit cards without authorization, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced
Jeffrey Bennett, 27, of Irvington, New Jersey, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From February 2019 to May 2020, Bennett conspired to fraudulently obtain money from victim financial institutions by depositing counterfeit checks and checks stolen from the mail into accounts at these financial institutions and withdrawing funds before the financial institutions identified the fraudulent checks and blocked further withdrawals. Bennett and his conspirators arranged for U.S. Postal Service (USPS) employees to steal credit cards and blank check books from the mail in exchange for cash payments. USPS employees provided the checks to Bennett and his conspirators, who forged the signatures of the accountholders and negotiated the checks by making them payable to individuals, some of whom were New Jersey high school students, who had given Bennett and his conspirators access to their accounts, also in exchange for cash. Bennett and his conspirators obtained and attempted to obtain approximately $366,000 from victim financial institutions.
Two of Bennett’s conspirators, Tashon Ragan, 22, of Hillside, New Jersey, and Jahaad Flip, 22, of Newark, previously pleaded guilty before Judge Wigenton to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and are awaiting sentencing. Charges are still pending against another conspirator, USPS employee Janel Blackman, 42, of Newark. The charges against Blackman are merely accusations, and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The conspiracy charge is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 19, 2022.
Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited postal inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Acting Inspector in Charge Raimundo Marrero; special agents with the U.S. Postal Service – Office of Inspector General, Northeast Area Field Office under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Matthew Modafferi; special agents with IRS – Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael Montanez; and special agents with the Office of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Andrew McKay, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. She also thanked the Summit Police Department, the New Providence Police Department, the Piscataway Police Department, the Newark Police Department, the South Orange Police Department, and the Little Falls Police Department for their assistance.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jonathan Fayer and Elaine K. Lou in Newark.
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