An Oakdale man was sentenced in federal court Wednesday (July 25) for stealing mail and using the victims' identities to create bank accounts and obtain cash.
Ricky W. Mariano, 41, of Oakdale, will spend more than five years in federal prison for two counts of theft and receipt of stolen mail, two counts of destruction of mailboxes, one count of bank fraud conspiracy, one count of bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.
Mariano was charged in a superseding indictment on Jan. 10 and was convicted on March 16 following a jury trial.
According to the indictment and evidence presented at trial, Mariano — also known as Ricky William Scharrer — stole mail from mailboxes in Dakota, Ramsey and Washington counties from July 2010 to July 2011. During that time he destroyed blue, roadside and collection mailboxes to access the mail.
Mariano was working with nine others to use the stolen mail to get personal information and financial items to gain access to people's bank accounts. The personal information included names, birth dates, bank acount numbers and the financial items included credit cards and checks.
Mariano and those he was working with used a process called "check washing" to gain access to the victims' bank accounts. "Check washing" uses a chemical to erase certain details from the checks while retaining other information, like bank account numbers and routing numbers.
Mariano used the "washed" checks to get cash or merchandise at several retail stores in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
“The sentencing of Mr. Mariano today should serve as a wake-up call to those who would steal U.S. mail in furtherance of their criminal activities," said Adam P. Behnen, a postal inspector in charge of the division that covers the Twin Cities. "The Postal Inspection Service will continue to remain vigilant by protecting the nation’s mail system to ensure that it is safe and secure for public use.”
Nine others have also been sentenced for their participation in the conspiracy.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the sheriff offices in Washington, Dakota and Ramsey counties and police departments in the Twin Cities, including Blaine, Inver Grove Heights, Lakeville and White Bear Lake.