United States

Texan Admits to Theft of Checks from Mississippi Mailboxes

A 36-year-old Texas man is facing up to three years in prison for failing to report to authorities his knowledge of a conspiracy to steal checks from mailboxes in Mississippi.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Golden says those involved in the conspiracy used other people's identities to produce counterfeit checks to buy items at Wal-Mart stores.

The Sun Herald reports Joe Gonzales Jr., of Fort Worth, pleaded guilty Tuesday to a bill of information charging him with misprision of felony -- knowing of a crime but failing to report it to authorities.

In exchange for his plea, the government plans to dismiss a conspiracy charge against him at his April 14 sentencing. He remains in custody.

A federal grand jury had indicted Gonzales along with Megan Murley, 27, of Marlin, Texas, and David Elliot Burney, 47, and Charles "Cody Blue" Slaton, 47, both of Grandbury, Texas, on a charge of conspiracy to commit mail theft and identity theft. All but Gonzales had already entered guilty pleas.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Golden, Gonzales knew the crime was being committed because he stayed in a hotel room with Murley in Texas in January 2014, where she had an assortment of stolen mail and a large laser printer she was using to produce the counterfeit checks. In addition, Golden said, surveillance video showed Gonzales with Murley at a Texas Wal-Mart store, where she was using the counterfeit checks to make purchases.

Still, Golden said, Murley indicated Gonzales had very little involvement in the crime.

U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden will sentence Gonzales.

The indictment says the four used the victims' names and bank routing numbers to produce the counterfeit checks. The checks were used to buy electronics, gift cards, prepaid credit cards, food and clothing.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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