NEWARK, N.J. – Two men were charged today for their roles in a conspiracy to possess stolen mail, including credit cards and pandemic relief credit cards, commit bank fraud, and defraud the U.S. Postal Service and the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.
Jarid Brooks, 27, and his brother, Justin Brooks, 21, both of Vauxhall, New Jersey, are charged by indictment with participating in a scheme to fraudulently obtain money from victim financial institutions and the U.S. Department of Treasury by obtaining credit cards issued by the victim financial institutions and Economic Impact Payment (EIP) cards issued by the U.S. Department of Treasury, which were stolen out of the U.S. mail by bribed U.S. Postal Service employees, and fraudulently using the stolen cards to make unauthorized purchases. They also are charged with aggravated identity theft. Jarid Brooks is also charged with possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and heroin, and Justin Brooks is charged with possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From July 2019 to Oct. 6, 2020, Jarid Books and Justin Brooks obtained credit cards stolen from the U.S. mail by U.S. Postal Service letter carriers, and then fraudulently activated those credit cards. They used those credit cards to make and attempt to make purchases without the cardholders’ authorization, including buying gift cards and electronics. The investigation to date has revealed that the victims have incurred approximately $100,000 in intended and actual losses from fraudulent purchases made using their stolen credit cards. In addition to stealing and illegally using credit cards, Jarid Brooks and Justin Brooks also schemed to fraudulently use over $11,000 of funds pre-loaded onto EIP cards issued by the U.S. Department of Treasury and sent in the U.S. mail pursuant to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), that were also stolen from the mail. The CARES Act authorized EIP payments structured as one-time refundable tax credits to certain eligible taxpayers of $1,200 for individuals, $2,400 for married couples filing jointly, and up to $500 for each qualifying child. The goal of this part of their fraud was for the conspirators to unlawfully obtain the government funds pre-loaded onto these cards, in amounts ranging from approximately $400 to approximately $2,400.
The indictment contains the following charges:
|Conspiracy to Possess Stolen Mail, Commit Bank Fraud, Defraud the U.S. Postal Service and the U.S. Department of Treasury|
|Receipt of Stolen Mail|
|4||Jarid Brooks||Aggravated Identity Theft|
|5||Justin Brooks||Aggravated Identity Theft|
|6||Jarid Brooks||Possession with Intent to Distribute Fentanyl and Heroin|
|7||Justin Brooks||Possession of a Firearm with an Obliterated Serial Number|
The conspiracy, possession of mail theft, and firearm possession charges are each punishable by a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a maximum fine of up to $250,000. The bank fraud charge is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a maximum fine of up to $1 million. The aggravated identity theft charge carries a mandatory penalty of two years in prison, which must run consecutively to any other prison sentence imposed. The narcotics possession charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of up to $1 million.
Jarid and Justin Brooks were originally charged with Kyle Williams, 36, and Kyjuan Hutchins, 22, also of Vauxhall, in October 2020. The charges against Kyle Williams for his role in the stolen mail and bank fraud conspiracy are still pending. He is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. Hutchins has pleaded guilty for his role in the conspiracy and is awaiting sentencing.
Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited postal inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Acting Inspector in Charge Rodney M. Hopkins; special agents with the U.S. Postal Service – Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Matthew Modafferi, Northeast Area Field Office; and special agents with the Office of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Andrew McKay, with the investigation leading to today’s charges. She also thanked the Union County Prosecutor’s Office, the Caldwell Police Department, the Fairfield Police Department, the Boonton Police Department, and the Millburn Police Department for their assistance.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Elaine K. Lou of the Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.