Two men have been sentenced for their roles in leading a major mail theft and check counterfeiting operation affecting victims across the Denver metro area.
The charges stem from a May 2016 grand jury indictment that listed more than 300 counts against 15 individuals.
“This isn’t just about identity theft. This crime is personal to members of our community,” Deputy District Attorney Steve Fauver told the court April 21 in asking for a 10-year prison sentence for ringleader Alexander Winslow Arthur, 30, of Greenwood Village. “Check fraud is different than credit card fraud … You don’t know what they get when they steal your mail.”
Arapahoe District Judge F. Stephen Collins sentenced Arthur to eight years in community corrections. If Arthur fails community corrections, a 10-year suspended sentence to the Department of Corrections will be imposed.
Arthur pleaded guilty Dec. 5, 2016, to a Class 2 felony racketeering charge under the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act and a Class 4 felony identify theft charge as a ringleader of the group.
Arthur’s partner, Sean Michael Jones, 36, of Denver pleaded guilty to the same charges and was sentenced Feb. 6, 2017, to a 10-year prison term.
Racketeering and financial crimes offenders do not face mandatory prison sentences regardless of the number of acts or amount of money stolen. In imposing the court’s sentence, Judge Collins called Arthur a “master manipulator” but opted for no prison time, saying, “he will go in, have a bad experience and come out a worse person than when he went in.”
Arthur and his co-defendants were also ordered to pay $87,000 in restitution to the victims in this case.
“Colorado’s criminal laws are weak and need to be modernized to reflect the realities of identity theft and financial crime,” said 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler. “When a person steals $100 from someone at the end of a gun barrel just one time, he faces mandatory prison. But, when someone steals numerous individuals’ identities, financial security, and nearly $90,000 through repeated and prolonged acts of theft, fraud, and deceit … he gets a halfway house. Here, we asked that this criminal ring leader be sentenced to prison.”
The Denver Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service spearheaded the investigation with the assistance of investigators from the Colorado State Patrol. The ring stole mail from home mailboxes and collection points across the metro area from April 2015 to January 2016 to obtain checks and other financial information. The legitimate checks were used to make counterfeit checks, which were then cashed at banks. Arthur and key members of the group also used other stolen information to obtain credit cards.
Hundreds of people had their mail stolen, and dozens had their identities stolen.
Arthur initially created the bogus checks for himself using readily available software and computers, scanners and printers with magnetic ink. Arthur soon expanded the operation to create checks for others in exchange for a share of the proceeds.
“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service will continue to vigorously pursue those who target the mail as a means to exploit their victims,” said Craig Goldberg, Inspector-in-Charge of the Denver Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. “This case highlights how Denver Postal Inspectors continue to seek all available prosecution options to bring justice to the victims in these cases. The successful resolution of this case has made a significant impact on mail theft in Colorado, and should restore the public’s trust in the U.S. Postal Service.”