Two former postal workers and an accomplice pleaded guilty in federal court this week to stealing more than $3.5 million in federal tax refund and government benefits checks from a mail distribution facility in Atlanta.
Prosecutors said Gerald Eason of Stockbridge and Deborah Fambro-Echols of Hapeville may be responsible for the majority of federal checks stolen in Georgia over the last four years.
The more than 1,800 victims not only missed tax refund checks but also Social Security and veterans’ benefits checks.
“A major U.S. Treasury check theft ring that plagued this State for many years has been successfully dismantled,” U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said Wednesday.
Prosecutors said Eason and Fambro-Echols stole thousands of U.S. Treasury checks while working at the U.S. Postal Service’s Atlanta Processing and Distribution Center. Eason worked as a supervisor, and Fambro-Echols worked as a mail handler.
An April 2011 search of Fambro-Echols’ Hapeville home uncovered 661 Treasury checks totaling more than $590,000 that were issued in less than a two-week period, prosecutors said.
On March 7 and 11, 2012, surveillance video captured Eason stealing more than 1,300 checks worth more than $2.8 million, prosecutors said.
Federal agents caught Eason driving the stolen checks to a residence, where he thought they would be distributed to co-conspirators who would cash them. He was arrested while attempting to collect his take after a delivery.
Prosecutors said the two postal workers recruited others at banks and business establishments to cash the checks. They included Wendy Frasier of Atlanta and Daralyn M. Weaver of Atlanta, who acted as brokers for Fambro-Echols; and Jabril O. McKee of Riverdale and Ohmar D. Braden of Covington, who worked as check cashers and helped with fake IDs.
Eason, Fambro-Echols and Weaver were sentenced Wednesday. Eason, 47, was sentenced to 7 years, 3 months in prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release, and fined $15,000. Fambro-Echols, 50, was sentenced to 6 years, 6 months in prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release, and fined $12,500. Weaver, 31, was sentenced to 3 years in prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release, and fined $5,000.
McKee, 25, was sentenced in January to two years, four months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and fined $3,000. Braden, 37 was sentenced in December to two years, four months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and fined $2,000.
The sentencing for Frasier, 35, is scheduled for March 14.