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Men Admit St. Louis Area Mail Theft, Bank Fraud Conspiracy

April 10, 2024

READ FULL ARTICLE AT » United States Department of Justice

ST. LOUIS – Two men have admitted stealing mail from U.S. Postal Service collection boxes in the St. Louis area to obtain checks that were then used to commit bank fraud.

Dareon Graham, 23, of Ferguson, Missouri, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in St. Louis Tuesday to one count each of conspiracy to commit mail theft, bank fraud and possession of stolen mail matter.

Tyrell Hardin, 21, of Hanley Hills, pleaded guilty on March 4 to one count of conspiracy to commit mail theft and two counts of mail theft.

Both men admitted in their guilty pleas that between roughly January 2022 and October 2022, Graham organized a conspiracy in which Graham, Hardin and other co-conspirators would steal mail from Postal Service collection boxes to obtain personal and business checks. Graham obtained a stolen key used to open collection boxes and gave that key to Hardin. Graham agreed to pay Hardin to steal mail and told him to target specific collection boxes in and around St. Louis County. Hardin then gave the stolen mail to Graham, who opened the mail and removed checks.

Early on the morning of Jan. 10, 2022, Hardin stole mail from collection boxes outside U.S. Post Offices in Clayton, University City and Richmond Heights, using a stolen Dodge Challenger. Later that same morning, St. Louis County Police found the stolen car near Hardin’s home and recovered a large amount of stolen mail in the trunk.

On Jan. 21, 2022, Hardin stole mail from collection boxes outside U.S. Post Offices in Ferguson, Clayton, Brentwood, Richmond Heights and the Gravois location in St. Louis. On Jan. 25, 2022, Hardin texted Graham a photo of ten checks that he had taken from stolen mail that belonged to businesses and individuals located in St. Louis. The ten checks were made out in various amounts totaling $32,792.

On Oct. 7, 2022, Hardin unsuccessfully tried to steal mail from collection boxes in Wildwood and Chesterfield.

In addition, Graham used the stolen checks to commit bank fraud. Graham altered the checks and deposited them into bank accounts belonging to 11 people he had recruited via Instagram and other means. The account holders provided debit cards, PINs and other banking information to Graham in exchange for a portion of the proceeds from the deposits. Graham would either deposit the fraudulent checks himself, typically in amounts ranging from $2,000 to $12,000, or give the account holders the fraudulent checks. These deposits occurred at ATMs and bank branch locations in St. Louis County, St. Louis City and St. Charles County.

During the scheme, Graham deposited or caused the deposit of fraudulent checks totaling at least $103,457 and obtained at least $46,434 in proceeds, his plea agreement says.

Hardin is scheduled to be sentenced June 4. Graham is scheduled to be sentenced July 3. The charges of conspiracy, mail theft and possession of stolen mail matter are each punishable by up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine or both prison and a fine. The bank fraud charge is punishable by up to 30 years in prison, a $1 million fine or both prison and a fine.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Maryland Heights Police Department, St. Louis County Police Department, Chesterfield Police Department, Frontenac Police Department, St. Peters Police Department and Town and Country Police Department investigated the case.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Clow is prosecuting the case.

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