TRENTON – Eight people, including a former bank teller, have been charged with participating in an identity theft ring that used account information stolen from customers of TD Bank to steal more than $150,000 at bank branch offices in New Jersey, Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced.
Seven defendants were indicted on Oct. 28 by a state grand jury on second-degree charges of conspiracy, theft by deception and identity theft. The eighth defendant was arrested today.The indictment stems from an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau.
Bronthie K. Charles, 27, of Brooklyn, N.Y., a former teller at TD Bank allegedly stole the identities of TD Bank customers while working for the bank in New York from January 2012 to May 2013.
Divine D. Garcia Jr., 28, of Jersey City allegedly was the leader of the ring to whom Charles provided account information of TD Bank customers. Garcia was arrested on Nov. 5 at LaGuardia Airport by members of the U.S. Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey Police.
Robert A. Wadiak, 47, of Roselle Park; Kenneth L. Cummings, 53, of Philadelphia, Pa.; Blanche R. Lopez, 43, of Cliffside Park; Rosa Samuels, 59, of Bronx, N.Y. and Demira D. Woodson, 22, of Roselle Park allegedly fraudulently assumed the identities of TD Bank customers to steal funds from TD Bank branch offices in New Jersey.
Cummings and Woodson also are charged with two counts each of third-degree money laundering.
The eighth defendant, Antonio Clemente, 34, of the Bronx, N.Y., was arrested this morning in the Bronx by Division of Criminal Justice detectives and members of the U.S. Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force. Clemente allegedly helped Garcia run the ring, recruiting individuals to pose as bank account holders. He is charged with second-degree conspiracy, theft by deception and identity theft.
“Identity theft is a major concern for financial institutions and an even greater concern for account holders, particularly in this era of electronic transactions,” said Hoffman. “To protect the public, we will aggressively prosecute criminals who violate the financial sanctity and privacy of consumers and businesses, whether they commit their crimes on the Internet or, as alleged with these defendants, take an old-school approach by using a teller’s window at a bank branch office.”
“With the help of the U.S. Marshals Service, Port Authority Police and additional law enforcement partners in New York, we were able to track down and arrest the two alleged leaders of this theft ring,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “The criminal activities of these alleged identity thieves did not stop at the state line, and neither did we in our pursuit of justice.”
Most of the identity theft victims were New York residents. The individuals who posed as account holders were provided with forged New York driver’s licenses and withdrawal slips that were already completed so that they could conduct the fraudulent transactions, authorities said. The fake account holders allegedly included drug addicts and homeless persons who were sometimes provided with clothing to wear in the banks.
Withdrawals were made at TD Bank branch offices in Absecon, Northfield, Galloway Township, Somers Point, Cherry Hill, Haddonfield, Stratford, Gloucester Township, Washington Township (Gloucester County), Deptford, West Deptford, Mantua, Glassboro, Mullica Hill, Williamstown and East Windsor.
Pending extradition, Garcia is being held in jail on Rikers Island in New York, and Clemente is also in custody in New York City. Wadiak is being held in the Atlantic County Jail. Samuels is in jail in Bucks County, Pa. The other defendants were issued summonses to appear for arraignment on Dec. 20 in Superior Court in Camden County.
Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while the third-degree money laundering charges carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $75,000.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
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