Michigan Man Gets Two Years in Prison For Stealing Mail And Cashing Forged Checks

GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — Zachary Stephen Thomas, age 33, from Holland, Michigan, was sentenced Monday in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan, to a mandatory two-year federal prison sentence for his commission of aggravated identity theft. As part of the sentence, Thomas was ordered to pay over $18,000.00 in restitution to several financial institutions and will serve a one-year term of supervised release after his prison term.

“The integrity of the United States’ mail and the security of the personal and financial information of the residents of this district are of utmost importance to this office,” said U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles. “The mandatory two-year prison sentence handed down today by U.S. District Judge Paul L. Maloney sends a message that those who seek to take advantage of others by stealing mail and accessing their finances through illegal means will face significant consequences.”

Beginning in December 2015, and continuing until May 2016, Defendant stole mail from the mailboxes of hundreds of residents in Holland and surrounding lakeshore communities. Defendant regularly stole bank replacement checks or credit card convenience checks mailed by financial institutions to the residents’ homes. He made the checks payable to himself or to others cooperating with him and he forged the signatures of the true account holders. He then opened bank accounts in his name using the internet and deposited the forged checks into these accounts. He immediately withdrew from the bank’s automated teller machine the maximum amount of cash allowed and waited for the balance of the funds associated with the checks to clear the bank. Once the checks cleared the bank, he typically withdrew the remaining amounts at a casino to avoid being seen at the bank. Over the period of approximately six months, Defendant caused losses totaling over $18,000.00 to several financial institutions.

The investigation of the case was handled by the United States Postal Inspection Service in Grand Rapids and the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ronald M. Stella.