California man pleads guilty to using counterfeit USPS keys to steal mail, defraud banks

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Matthew Core, 38, of Vallejo, pleaded guilty Monday to bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, and possession of reproduced U.S. Postal Service keys, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.

According to court documents, between February and August 2018, Core participated in a scheme to defraud banks in which he and others used counterfeit U.S. Postal Service keys to break into residential mailboxes throughout Northern California. The scheme participants stole U.S. Mail from these mailboxes and pulled out bankcards, personal and business checks, and government-issued IDs, all belonging to the mail-theft victims. They then altered some of the checks and bankcards with the intent to use them to defraud financial institutions.

In one instance, in April 2018, Core deposited an altered check issued by JP Morgan Chase Bank into his own bank account at an ATM in Vallejo. By depositing the altered check, Core knowingly used the identity of a mail-theft victim without legal authority. Core committed these acts with the intent to defraud JP Morgan Chase, which was insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

On Aug. 29, 2018, Core and others were arrested in Granite Bay. At that time, Core possessed at least four counterfeit U.S. Postal Service keys and two U.S. Postal Service locks. Core possessed these items with the intent to commit identity theft and bank fraud, including using them to steal U.S. Mail. On that same date, Core also possessed at least 15 unauthorized bankcards.

This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert J. Artuz is prosecuting the case.

Core is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller on April 27. Core faces a maximum statutory penalty of 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million for the bank fraud, 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for possession of mail keys, and a mandatory sentence of two years in prison consecutive to any other sentence imposed a fine of up to $250,000 for aggravated identity theft. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.