LYNCHBURG (WSLS 10) - A North Carolina man pleaded guilty on Wednesday to federal conspiracy and aggravated identity theft charges according to United States Attorney John P. Fishwick Jr.
39-year-old Mario LaShawn Clinton of Mount Holly, North Carolina, pleaded guilty Wednesday afternoon in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Lynchburg to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and related offenses against the United States and two counts of aggravated identity theft.
"Mr. Clinton, and those he conspired with, used a variety of tools and techniques to alter checks and steal money from unsuspecting individuals and businesses,"said Fishwick. "We will continue to be vigilant in holding accountable those who commit frauds against our banking system, individuals and the United States."
According to evidence presented at Wednesday's plea hearing, Clinton, and others he conspired with, agreed to help each other make money by cashing checks that were stolen and altered.
Clinton, and other members of the conspiracy, altered the stolen checks, or caused them to be altered, to reflect a new payee name, and in some instances, an increased amount.
Officials said members of the conspiracy used razor blades, erasers, typewriters and other tools to alter the checks. Clinton purchased and disposed of typewriters frequently in order to dispose of key evidence of his crimes.
In addition, Clinton and other members of the conspiracy recruited individuals to cash the fraudulent checks at issuing banks. Typically the conspiracy used women for this role, however men were used to cash checks on occasion.
The conspiracy primarily took place in the Western District of Virginia and Western District of North Carolina, however, members of the conspiracy did make check cashing trips to locations as far away as Pennsylvania, Missouri and Tennessee.