|TRENTON – Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced that five Paterson residents were indicted today on charges that they conspired to steal more than $118,000 in checks from mailboxes in Passaic County and launder the proceeds through various personal bank accounts. The stolen checks included nearly $100,000 in unemployment checks from the State of New Jersey.
The New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau obtained a state grand jury indictment today charging each of the following five defendants, all Paterson residents, with second-degree conspiracy and third-degree receiving stolen property:
- Raulin Lopez, 25, the alleged leader of the conspiracy;
- Enmanuel Rodriguez, 28;
- Sandy Rodriguez, 35 (no known relationship to Enmanuel Rodriguez);
- Amauris Monsanto, 42; and
- Danys Rosario, 38.
In addition, Lopez and Enmanuel Rodriguez were charged with second-degree money laundering.
The charges resulted from an investigation by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice. The investigation began after the U.S. Postal Inspection Service received numerous reports of thefts of unemployment checks issued by the New Jersey Department of Labor, personal checks, and other state and federal government checks from the U.S. Mail in Passaic County. 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. The Postal Inspection Service referred the case to the Division of Criminal Justice.
“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 U.S. Postal Inspection Service thoroughly investigated this series of thefts from the U.S. Mail in Passaic County, and because the crimes seriously impacted New Jersey residents, we stood ready to aggressively prosecute the offenders under state law,” said Director Stephen J. Taylor of the Division of Criminal Justice. “These defendants will face significant prison sentences if convicted.”
“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is committed to protecting the American public and maintaining the integrity of the U.S. Mails. The Inspection Service will continue to aggressively investigate criminals and bring them to justice,” said Acting Inspector in Charge Maria Kelokates of the Newark Division.
The co-conspirators allegedly would follow mail carriers to private homes where the checks were delivered and steal the checks immediately after they had been placed in the mailbox. It is alleged that between October 2008 and May 2010, the defendants converted approximately $118,167 in stolen checks to cash by depositing them into Lopez’s personal bank accounts at PNC Bank or JP Morgan Chase Bank, or his co-defendants’ personal bank accounts at JP Morgan Chase Bank. The co-defendants allegedly received money from Lopez in return for the use of their bank accounts. The money was generally withdrawn from the bank accounts at ATM machines.
There was a total of approximately $99,119 in stolen unemployment checks issued by the State of New Jersey. The balance of approximately $19,048 in stolen checks included $8,330 in U.S. Treasury checks, $2,176 in New Jersey Treasury checks, and checks from other public and private agencies, schools and businesses
Deputy Attorney General Marysol Rosero presented the case to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau. The case was investigated by Postal Inspector George P. Hemmer of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Acting Inspector in Charge Maria Kelokates of the Newark Division. Detective Nelson Trujillo and retired Sgt. Robert Walker assisted in the investigation for the Division of Criminal Justice.
Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a $150,000 fine, while third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a $15,000 fine. The charge of second-degree money laundering carries an enhanced fine of up to $500,000. The charges in the indictment are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
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.
A copy of the indictment is posted with this release at www.njpublicsafety.com.