Three defendants, including two former postal workers, were sentenced today in federal court for stealing more than $3.5 million in U.S. Treasury checks from an Atlanta mail distribution facility. Over 1,800 victims had their tax refund, Social Security, and Veterans checks stolen during the scheme. The defendants were convicted of conspiracy, theft of government money, and possession of stolen Treasury checks.
United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said, “With today’s sentencings, a major U.S. Treasury check theft ring that plagued this State for many years has been successfully dismantled. The defendants stole millions in tax refund, Social Security, and Veterans checks from good people who had expected to receive their checks in the mail only to discover they had been diverted to criminals and identity thieves. The task force will continue to target those who are responsible for making Georgia a hotbed for this kind of criminal activity.”
Special Agent in Charge Guy P. Fallen, Office of the Inspector General, Social Security Administration stated, “Social Security payments are a lifeline for many Americans who are unable to work due to a temporary or permanent disability. Our office is gratified by the U.S. Attorney’s shared commitment to investigate and prosecute those who defraud Social Security trust funds. One of our highest priorities is ensuring that those who steal SSA payments are swiftly detected and prosecuted. Social Security fraud affects all Americans. The individuals sentenced today are a testament to our serious commitment to pursuing those who would victimize Social Security beneficiaries.”
“Check fraud is one of the largest challenges facing financial institutions today. This case illustrates the importance of task force partnerships with state, local and federal law enforcement agencies. The Secret Service will continue to work with our law enforcement partners in combating threats to our nation’s financial payment systems and to protect innocent victims,” said Reginald G. Moore, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service, Atlanta Field Office.
Special Agent in Charge Quentin G. Aucoin, Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General stated, “Thefts of VA benefits checks intended for veterans who honorably served this country will not be tolerated. VA OIG vigorously investigates allegations of criminal activities impacting VA programs.”
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: Gerald Eason worked as a supervisor at the Atlanta Processing and Distribution Center, a centralized mail distribution center, on Crown Road in Atlanta, Georgia. That facility processes mail for delivery to dozens of zip codes in Georgia. Deborah Fambro-Echols worked as a mail handler at the facility. While on the job, Eason and Fambro-Echols stole thousands of U.S. Treasury checks and provided them to a network of brokers and check cashers who would then negotiate the checks and split the criminal proceeds with them. These individuals forged endorsements and used fake identification to pose as the intended recipients of the checks when cashing them. Federal authorities believe that Eason and Fambro-Echols are responsible for a significant portion of the U.S. Treasury checks reported stolen in Georgia over the last four years.
In April 2011, law enforcement authorities searched Fambro-Echols’ residence in Hapeville. They found 661 Treasury checks totaling over $590,000. Almost all of the checks discovered during the search were dated from April 8 to 19, 2011, and thus stolen over less than a two-week period.
On March 7 and 11, 2012, Eason stole over 1,300 Treasury checks worth more than $2.8 million. Federal agents video recorded him stealing the checks at the mail facility and then observed him drive the checks to a residence, where he thought they would be distributed to co-conspirators who would cash them. He was arrested while attempting to collect his portion of the proceeds from the second delivery.
Eason and Fambro-Echols stole millions in U.S. Treasury checks during their employment with the U.S. Postal Service. Wendy Frasier and Daralyn M. Weaver acted as brokers for Fambro-Echols. They recruited others to cash the stolen checks at banks and business establishments. Jabril O. McKee and Ohmar D. Braden worked as check cashers in the scheme, negotiating stolen checks with the help of fake identification documents and sharing the proceeds with their co-conspirators. In March 2011, McKee and Braden were arrested at a BestBank in Decatur, Georgia attempting to negotiate a stolen Social Security check while impersonating the intended recipient of the check.
United States District Judge Charles A. Pannell, Jr. sentenced Eason, Fambro-Echols, and Weaver today, and previously sentenced McKee and Braden:
- Gerald Eason, 47, of Stockbridge, Georgia, was sentenced to 7 years, 3 months in prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release, and fined $15,000.
- Deborah Fambro-Echols, 50, of Hapeville, Georgia, was sentenced to 6 years, 6 months in prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release, and fined $12,500.
- Daralyn M. Weaver, 31, of Atlanta, Georgia, was sentenced to 3 years in prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release, and fined $5,000.
- Jabril O. McKee, 25, of Riverdale, Georgia, was sentenced on January 30, 2013, to two years, four months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and fined $3,000.
- Ohmar D. Braden, 37, of Covington, Georgia, was sentenced on December 18, 2012, to two years, four months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and fined $2,000
The sentencing for Wendy Frasier, 35, of Atlanta, Georgia is scheduled for March 14, 2013 at 4 p.m. by United States District Judge Charles A. Pannell, Jr.
This case was investigated by the United States Secret Service; United States Postal Service, Office of Inspector General; Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General; United States Postal Inspection Service; U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General; U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Inspector General; Georgia Department of Revenue, Office of Special Investigations; and DeKalb Police Department; with valuable assistance provided by the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office.
This case was brought as part of the U.S. Attorney’s Stolen Treasury Check Task Force. The Task Force is an informal group of 14 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies working together to address the problem of stolen U.S. Treasury checks in the Northern District of Georgia.
Assistant United States Attorneys Stephen H. McClain, Loranzo M. Fleming, Christopher C. Bly, and Jeffrey Viscomi are prosecuting the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Information Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the HomePage for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia is www.justice.gov/usao/gan.