ATLANTA – Mariah C. Clark, 28, of Loganville, Ga., was one of 15 others sentenced this week for their part in a ring that stole more than $10 million in U.S., Treasury check from the mail and then cashed them at Walmart and Kroger stores around the county using fake identifications. The sentences for the 15 ranged from two to 10 years in prison. Clark received a two-year, seven months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for her involvement in the ring. She also was ordered to pay $208,423.51 in restitution. A 16th person still has to be sentenced.
“This sentencing marks a success for our multi-agency Stolen Treasury Check Task Force, which targets the widespread problem of U.S. Treasury check thefts in Georgia,” U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak said in a press release announcing the sentencing on Dec. 18, 2018. “Criminals who steal Treasury checks victimize senior citizens, the disabled, veterans, and hard-working taxpayers who have earned these funds and depend on them. As this case shows, we will pursue these theft rings and hold them accountable regardless of how far away they go to cash the checks and avoid detection.”
Special Agent in Charge Kimberly A. Cheatle, U.S. Secret Service, Atlanta Field Office attributed the success of the investigation to the federal agencies that partnered with the Secret Service to bring the members of this ring to justice.
“It is immensely gratifying to see those who prey on the vulnerable prosecuted and sentenced for their crimes,” he said. Others who helped in the investigation included the Stolen Treasury Check Task Force as well as postal inspectors.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General; Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General; and United States Postal Service, Office of the Inspector General.
“Criminals should take note that Postal Inspectors along with our law enforcement partners will vigorously pursue and bring to justice anyone who commits a crime against the U. S. mail system,” David M. McGinnis, U.S. Postal Inspector in Charge of the Charlotte Division said in the press release.
Social Security Investigation OIG Atlanta Field Division Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Gregory Wiggs said that the scheme affected many innocent citizens, including Social Security beneficiaries, who have earned government payments. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners on similar investigations, and we thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for prosecuting this significant case,” he said. Federal inmates were also victims in this case.
In the press release, the charges and other information presented in court revealed that two of the defendants, Maurice Shuler and Milton Minter, received stolen U.S. Treasury checks that were taken from the U.S. Mail before reaching their intended recipients. “The checks included tax refund, Social Security, and veterans checks. After receiving the checks, Shuler and Minter provided them to a network of check cashers who negotiated the stolen checks, mainly at Walmart and Kroger stores. The defendants used fake driver’s licenses to pose as the check payees and forged the payees’ names on the back of the checks. They also used other individuals’ Social Security numbers to cash the checks.”
In attempts to avoid detection, the defendants traveled to different states to cash the stolen checks, netting the ring more than $10 million from cashing more than 6,000 stolen checks.
These 16 defendants were previously charged in an 83-count indictment with conspiracy, theft of government money, and aggravated identity theft. All of the defendants were convicted after pleading guilty to one or more counts of the indictment.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen H. McClain, Chief of the Complex Frauds Section, and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher C. Bly prosecuted the case.