A Reston man has been sentenced to more than five years in prison for a bank fraud and identity theft scheme where he created fake COVID-19 stimulus checks, the Department of Justice announced yesterday (Wednesday).
Jonathan Drew, 39, was sentenced in federal court in Alexandria yesterday by Senior U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga. His 70-month prison sentence is significantly less than the maximum of 32 years that he faced for charges of bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.
He pleaded guilty to the charges on April 14.
Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Raj Parekh announced the sentencing. He was joined by Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis, Loudoun County Sheriff Michael Chapman, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George, and Daniel A. Adame, the inspector in charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Washington Division.
“In addition to causing financial harm to the individuals from whom he stole checks and credit cards, the defendant’s sweeping criminal conduct also inflicted emotional harm and distress to his identity theft victims,” Parekh said in a statement. “As this case demonstrates, we are determined to hold accountable those who seek to illegally enrich themselves by defrauding and stealing from our residents.”
According to the DOJ news release, Drew stole the identities of more than 150 people between December 2019 and August 2020:
According to court documents, between approximately December 2019 and August 2020, Jonathan Drew, 39, stole U.S. mail addressed to more than 150 individuals in Fairfax and Loudoun counties. The mail Drew stole included bank statements, credit cards, credit card statements, W-2 forms, and more than $700,000 in checks, including a COVID-19 stimulus payment and checks Drew used to create counterfeit checks.
According to court documents, Drew used the stolen stimulus check to create counterfeit stimulus checks ranging from $1,200 to $2,400, and he negotiated his own authentically issued stimulus check twice. Drew also used the personally identifiable information of several individuals without authorization to lease an apartment; open bank accounts; and attempt to conduct fraudulent transactions through counterfeit checks, forged checks, unauthorized use of credit cards, and wire transfers.
The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys Olivia Zhu and Roberta O. Roberts, along with Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell L. Carlberg.
Attorney General Merrick Garland established a COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force with the Department of Justice and other government agencies on May 17 to investigate and prosecute crimes related to the pandemic and the various relief programs created to address its economic impact.
The DOJ says people can stay alert for fraud involving COVID-19 vaccinations and testing, unemployment benefits, and taxes by not responding to unsolicited phone calls or emails and avoiding sharing personal or health information with anyone other than trusted medical professionals.
Anyone who thinks they might be a victim of a scam or attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the DOJ National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or submitting a National Center for Disaster Fraud complaint form.
Photo via Google Maps
Herndon Man Pleads Guilty in 2011 Reston Shooting — Herndon resident Saul Pacheco Mejia pleaded guilty in federal court yesterday (Thursday) for his involvement in a 2011 drug deal where his associates shot and killed one of the buyers. Mejia was indicted in 2015 and could face up to 25 years in prison when sentenced on Nov. 11. [The Washington Post]
Man Arrested for Reston Stabbing — A 23-year-old has been charged with malicious wounding for a stabbing that was reported in the 2100 block of Cartwright Place around 10:03 p.m. Wednesday night (July 14). Police say they located the suspect at 10:57 p.m. that night after an extensive search of the area involving dogs and helicopters. [Patch]
Hawk Crashes into Reston Home — A loud crash at a window of Reston resident Edward Abbott’s home last Friday (July 9) led to the discovery of “a dead chipmunk and a stunned hawk lying on the deck.” A Fairfax County Animal Control officer who responded to the call took the bird to a veterinarian for examination, but they were unable to determine whether the hawk had killed the chipmunk. [Patch]
Reston Community Center Unveils Fall Offerings — RCC’s 2021 Fall Program Guide is now online. Registration will begin on Aug. 1 for Reston residents and employees and Aug. 8 for other individuals. A print guide will be delivered soon, but it will be condensed to just key information as the center looks to reduce its use of paper and carbon footprint. [RCC]
Two Charged in Herndon Man’s Death — “Fairfax County Police charged two Sterling men already in police custody Thursday in connection with the May 7 fatal shooting of 26-year-old Brian Constanza-Campos of Herndon…In the first six months of 2021, Fairfax County has already had 10 homicides.” [Patch]
Hook Road Tennis Court Renovations Delayed — “Due to availability and delivery issues of materials, as well as difficulties scheduling exterior work, Reston Association is anticipating a 3-to-4-week delay on completion of the Hook Road tennis renovation project. We now expect substantial work to be finished by Aug. 13.” [RA/Twitter]
Park Authority Board Resumes In-Person Meetings — After a 15-month shift to virtual meetings due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fairfax County Park Authority Board will meet in person once again starting with its scheduled 7:30 p.m. meeting on July 14 at the Herrity Building. The board will also resume opening meetings with a public comment period. [FCPA]
Virginia Federal Prosecutors Increase Support for Civil Rights Cases — “Acting U.S. Attorney For the Eastern District of Virginia Raj Parekh announced Thursday the creation of a civil rights team within the office’s criminal division. Prosecutors will investigate hate crimes, bias-related incidents, and alleged law enforcement misconduct, among other crimes.” [WTOP]
A Reston man who federal officials said sold $250,000 worth of machinery parts from American manufacturers to Iranian companies pleaded guilty to felony charges in U.S. Federal Court in Alexandria on Thursday.
Vahid Hosseini, 62, ran a business called Sabern Industries from his home in Reston, FBI officials said.
Hosseini pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and a separate count of money laundering. Hosseini faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and fines totaling $250,000 when he is sentenced on June 6.
From the FBI:
In a statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, from at least as early as January 2008 to July 2013, Hosseini operated a business known as Sabern Instruments from his residence in Reston. Through this business, Hosseini procured more than $250,000 worth of goods from over 60 American manufacturers, which he then repackaged and shipped to entities in Iran.
The list of high-tech goods included tachometers, power supply instruments, high-temperature probes, ammonia test tubes, valves, and machinery parts, all of which are used in a variety of commercial applications, including power plants. Hosseini routed these shipments through the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in an attempt to disguise the fact that the items were destined for Iran. Such exports are prohibited without a license issued by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.
In a related money laundering scheme, Hosseini had over $700,000 wired into his company business account from entities in Iran and the UAE, much of which was derived from his illegal export business. He then unlawfully withdrew money from his business account for personal expenditures.