Missouri quartet pleads guilty to bank fraud linked to stolen mail

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Four residents of Warren County, Missouri, have entered guilty pleas to federal charges related to extensive mail, check, and personal information thefts.

On Wednesday, Elijah Briggs, 42, appeared in U.S. District Court in St. Louis, admitting guilt to three counts of bank fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft. Jessica Kirkpatrick, 44, also pleaded guilty to two counts of bank fraud during a separate hearing on the same day.

Earlier, Reuben Kim, 36, pleaded guilty on April 2 to two counts of bank fraud, and Holly Naylor, 41, entered her guilty plea in August to similar charges.

Briggs confessed to stealing U.S. mail from mailboxes and blank checks from residences while employed as a contractor. In one instance from 2019, he illegally accessed an online bank account belonging to a couple, transferring funds to a PayPal account and accounts held by other identity theft victims. Furthermore, he stole and fraudulently altered a check from the mailbox of a neighboring homeowner, leading to a financial loss of $1,264.

Authorities later apprehended Briggs with mail pilfered from numerous individuals, over 30 stolen debit or credit cards, and more than 100 checks bearing other people’s names. The collective amount involved in the stolen or forged checks reached $116,279. In addition, he possessed a notebook with several other individuals’ names and personal information.

In 2021, Briggs stole and misused a credit card from a client’s home where he was employed. He attempted to cash his own payroll check on multiple occasions and crafted fraudulent checks that were subsequently deposited by Kirkpatrick, Naylor, and Kim. Investigators found images of fraudulent checks worth $35,098 on his laptop.

In October 2021, officers from the St. Charles Police Department detained Briggs, discovering drugs, blank check paper, and stolen or fraudulent checks valued at $40,423.

In their pleas, Kirkpatrick, Naylor, and Kim acknowledged their roles in cashing the fraudulent checks devised by Briggs.

A conviction for bank fraud can lead to as much as 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million. Each charge of aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory two-year sentence, which must be served consecutively with any other sentence.

The investigation was conducted collaboratively by Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Warren County Sheriff’s Department, and police departments in St. Charles, St. Peters, and Wentzville. Assistant U.S. Attorney Diane Klocke led the prosecution.

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