An Irvington, Essex County man has been sentenced to 4-years in prison after playing a leading role in a conspiracy to steal checkbooks and credit cards from the mail, deposit fraudulent checks which included pandemic relief checks, and use stolen credit cards without authorization, announced U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger on Monday.

The rouse lasted for a little more than a year, between February of 2019 and May 2020.

During that time, 27-year old Jeffrey Bennett joined with others to illegally, and fraudulently, obtain money from certain undisclosed financial institutions.

Bennett would deposit counterfeit checks, as well as checks he stole from the mail, and put them into accounts at these institutions.

He would then withdraw the funds before the respective financial institutions would be able to identify that the checks were fraudulent and be able to prevent any more withdrawals.

The conspiracy took a crooked turn as well when Bennett and his conspirators arranged for U.S. Postal Service employees to allegedly steal credit cards and blank check books from the mail.

In exchange, those carriers would get cash payments.

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When U.S.P.S. employees gave Bennett and the others the checks they, in turn, forged signatures on those checks of the actual account holder and negotiated the checks as well, to make them payable to the individual.

Some of the individuals getting paid were high school students in New Jersey, who gave Bennett and company access to their bank accounts and in return, they got cash as well.

In total, Bennett and the group of conspirators tried to obtain about $366,000 from financial institutions.

Following his arrest, Bennett pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and now, in addition to 4-years in prison, he'll be under three years of supervised release.

Bennett has also been ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $61,438.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jonathan Fayer and Elaine K. Lou in Newark.

Defense counsel: John Yauch Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Newark.

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