Five Valdosta residents plead guilty to mail theft conspiracy

Five Valdosta residents plead guilty in front of the Senior United State District Judge Hugh Lawson for conspiring to steal and possess stolen mail on October 3 and October 12. / MGN Online

Five Valdosta residents plead guilty in front of the Senior United State District Judge Hugh Lawson for conspiring to steal and possess stolen mail on October 3 and October 12.

U.S. Attorney G.F. Peterman, III announced that 31-year-old Kedrick Williams, 31-year-old Zerrick Tompkins, 44-year-old Jerry Lewis Rawls, Jr., 64-year-old Willie James Smith and 46-year-old Gregory Willie Harris have admitted to conspiring to steal and possess stolen male and items, including checks, that were in the mail between July 24 and December 8, 2016.

Members of the conspiracy admitted to stealing mail in the Valdosta area, removing checks, and then altering payees and/or amounts on the checks that were in the mail. The defendants then presented the checks for cashing or deposit and retained the funds. The defendants admitted to the theft of between $40,000 and $95,000 worth of checks written on the accounts of various businesses and individuals. Members of the conspiracy agreed to payment of restitution of more than $14,000 to five banks and one business, based on checks that were actually negotiated.

Sentencing is scheduled for all defendants on January 10, 2018 in Valdosta, Georgia.

"This case involved a classic organized check cashing ring, with some members stealing checks, others altering the payees and the amounts, and other negotiating the altered instruments. The many victims in the South Georgia area included numerous businesses and individuals. It is a shame that with all the ingenuity and effort these criminals invested in this illegal scheme, they did not chose to earn an honest dollar instead, which they were clearly smart and resourceful enough to have done," said United States Attorney Peterman.

The case was investigated by the Lowndes County Sheriff's Office, the Valdosta Police Department, and the United States Postal Inspection Service.

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