Five men pleaded guilty to their roles in an elaborate scheme to steal more than $300,000 in checks from U.S. Postal Service mail collection boxes in Passaic, Bergen, Morris, Essex, and Middlesex counties, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced on Thursday.
Jerry Lake-Rodriguez, 26, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft at the Newark federal courthouse on Thursday. His co-defendants Ismael Alicea Jr., 26; Yerrisson Garcia-Rodriguez, 24; Brayan Ulloa-Ulloa, 24; and Johan Lake-Rodriguez, 27, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud.
The five men targeted blue mail collection boxes in Passaic, Bergen, Morris, Essex, Middlesex counties, and elsewhere late at night and broke into dozens of them using a pry bar.
Authorities said the five men stole mail inside the collection boxes to obtain checks. Checks were then deposited at automated teller machines (ATMs) within days of the theft. Authorities said the men deposited stolen checks into their own bank accounts as well as those under the names of third-party individuals.
Some of the accounts were used by multiple defendants, authorities said.
The five men face 30 years for conspiracy to commit bank fraud, authorities said. Also, Jerry Lake-Rodriguez faces two-year imprisonment for aggravated identity theft. His sentencing is scheduled for February 6, 2020.
Carpenito gave credit to postal inspectors at the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Newark Division for the investigation that lead to the guilty pleas.