12 March – A Berwick man was sentenced to four years in prison for his role in what lawyers called a ‘mail fishing scheme’.
Justin William Davis, 39, was sentenced in federal court Thursday by U.S. District Judge Malachy E. Mannion on serious charges of identity theft, according to a press release from U.S. Attorney for the Middle District Gerard Karam.
Davis’s original sentence was 24 months in prison; Judge Mannion detained for another 24 months due to Davis “engaging in this new criminal behavior” while already on supervised release for another similar criminal case, the release said.
In all, Davis was sentenced to 48 months in federal prison.
According to the release, individuals involved in this scheme used “makeshift devices” to extract mail from U.S. Post Office collection boxes, hoping to steal checks or other valuables.
The stolen items were then “washed,” according to the release, then rewritten to reflect a new beneficiary and a new, higher amount of money, before being collected or deposited into the bank accounts of the scheme’s conspirators.
Davis orchestrated the “fishing” plan between approximately August 19, 2021 and November 2, 2021, according to the Middle District.
With the help of a group of associates who were paid to cash the checks at various banks in Lucerne and Lackawanna counties, Davis was involved in the fishing, laundering, and fraudulent negotiation of about 70 checks.
He was able to renegotiate the checks, netting himself a grand total of $49,148.48, according to the release. Davis was instructed to pay that amount back to the victim banks who reimbursed the people whose checks were stolen and fraudulently negotiated.