Two men appeared in U.S. District Court in St. Louis Wednesday to answer an indictment accusing them of stealing mail from collection boxes in St. Louis County, Missouri, and using those checks to commit bank fraud.
Dareon Graham, 22, of Ferguson, and Tyrell Hardin, 20, of Hanley Hills, pleaded not guilty Wednesday. Hardin is facing one conspiracy count and eight counts of mail theft. Graham was indicted on one conspiracy count, 13 counts of bank fraud, four counts of possession of stolen mail, and four counts of aggravated identity theft.
The April 26 indictment says Graham used a stolen key to open mail collection boxes and steal mail and paid money to Hardin to do the same. The pair would then open the mail and remove personal and business checks, the indictment says.
Graham then recruited others to provide their banking information so he could alter the checks and deposit them into the accounts, the indictment says. Each check was written for thousands of dollars. Graham would then withdraw cash at ATMs before the banks realized the checks were fraudulent, the indictment says.
The conspiracy, mail theft, and stolen mail charges carry a penalty of up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both. The bank fraud charges are punishable by up to 30 years in prison, a $1 million fine, or both. Each aggravated identity theft charge carries a two-year prison term, consecutive to any other charge.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Clow is prosecuting the case.
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