NEWARK, N.J. – Six Paterson, New Jersey, men have been charged with taking part in a scheme to break into U.S. Postal Service (USPS) mail collection boxes throughout northern New Jersey and steal the mail—particularly, checks—inside, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Ismael Alicea, Jr., 25, Yerrisson Garcia-Rodriguez, 23, Jerry Lake-Rodriguez, 25, Johan Lake-Rodriguez, 26, Brayan Ulloa-Ulloa, 24, and Jefersson Quezada, 21, are each charged by complaint with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Each defendant, except Alicea, is also charged with one count of bank fraud. Garcia-Rodriguez, Jerry Lake-Rodriguez, Johan Lake-Rodriguez, and Quezada are additionally charged with one count of aggravated identity theft, and Alicea and Johan Lake-Rodriguez are charged with possession of stolen mail.
According to the complaint:
The defendants stole checks from USPS mail collection boxes in Passaic, Bergen, Morris, Essex, and Middlesex counties, and elsewhere, and fraudulently deposited them into various bank accounts, often within a day of being stolen. Some defendants broke into mail collection boxes using pry bars, usually late at night. Law enforcement officers have identified at least $300,000 worth of stolen checks that were deposited into the bank accounts.
Four of the defendants were arrested this morning and made their initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Court Judge Joseph Dickson in Newark federal court. Johan Lake-Rodriguez is in state custody and will make his initial appearance later this week. Jefersson Quezada remains at large.
The conspiracy and bank fraud charges each carry a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The aggravated identity theft charge carries a penalty of a mandatory term of two years in prison, to be served consecutively to any other sentence imposed.
U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito credited postal inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Newark Division, under the direction of Inspector-in-Charge James Buthorn, with the investigation leading to today’s arrests and charges. He also thanked the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Marshals Service for their assistance with the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Macurdy of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.
The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.