Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Laurel Man Sentenced to More Than Seven Years in Prison for Conspiracy to Distribute Heroin and for a Credit Card Scheme with Losses of More Than $116,709

GREENBELT, MD—U.S. District William D. Quarles, Jr. sentenced Moses Sumo Appram, age 28, of Laurel, Maryland, today to 90 months in prison, followed by four years of supervised release, for conspiracy to distribute heroin and, in an unrelated case, for credit card fraud and aggravated identity theft. Judge Quarles also ordered Appram to pay restitution in the credit card case of $116,709.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Acting Special Agent in Charge Robert Brisolari of the Drug Enforcement Administration-Washington Field Division; Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Postal Inspector in Charge Gary R. Barksdale of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service-Washington Division.
Appram was convicted after a three-day trial of conspiracy to distribute more than 100 grams of heroin. According to trial testimony, on March 11, 2011, Appram picked up a drug courier who had arrived from Ghana carrying approximately 800 grams of heroin. Appram allowed the courier to stay with him while he sought to distribute the heroin, and Appram obtained at least 180 grams of the courier’s heroin which he attempted to distribute himself.
Appram arranged to sell 200 grams of heroin for $10,000 to Nana Boateng, a native Ghanaian who was living in the U.S. and was involved in importing and distributing heroin. DEA agents investigating Boateng overheard Appram’s conversations with Boateng. On April 4, 2011, Appram delivered the heroin to Boateng in exchange for cash. Immediately after the sale, Appram realized that Boateng had given him less than the agreed upon $10,000 in cash. In fact, although Boateng claimed that it was a mistake made by a third party, Boateng had worked with another heroin dealer to prepare the fake “stacks” of money, which had a few $20 bills on the outside of the stacks but $1 bills within the stacks. Boateng never repaid Appram, despite Appram’s repeated requests to do so. Boateng re-sold the heroin obtained from Appram for $2,400.
Appram is responsible for the distribution of approximately 800 grams of heroin over the course of the conspiracy. Boateng pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute heroin and was sentenced to seven years in prison.
“This case demonstrates the postal inspectors’ commitment to vigorously pursue individuals who use U.S. mail for fraudulent activities,” said Inspector in Charge Gary R. Barksdale, U.S. Postal Inspection Service-Washington Division. “At every level, we will always make every effort to protect postal customers from corrupt individuals.”
According to his guilty plea in the credit card fraud scheme, Appram and his associates used the names and credit/debit cards of others, without those individuals’ knowledge or authorization, to place telephone orders for computers and computer equipment, using delivery addresses that at least matched the zip code of the actual credit card account holder. Before the vendor shipped the order, Appram’s associates changed the shipping address to one of a network of post office boxes that Appram and his conspirators rented around the country using fictitious identities and business names. They would then have the equipment repackaged at the mail store where it had been delivered and send the repackaged equipment to Appram, using an alias, through post office boxes in Columbia and Laurel that Appram had rented. Finally, Appram would re-ship the equipment to associates in Canada and elsewhere where it would ultimately be sold as “refurbished” or “reconditioned.”
Between December 2010 and June 2011, Appram received 188 separate packages containing computers and computer equipment at the Columbia and Laurel post office boxes he rented. On June 24, 2011, a search warrant was executed at his residence and agents recovered 16 laptop computers and four computer projectors, all in their original packaging. In addition, Appram’s computer and mobile devices included original shipping documents in the names of the victim account holders, the names and credit/debit card numbers of the victims, as well as messages from his associates with tracking numbers, information on what equipment had been shipped, and when to expect the shipment. As a result of the scheme, more than 10 victims lost a total of at least $116,709.
Today’s announcement is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices, and state and local partners, it is the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory, and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state, and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions, and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked the DEA, FBI, and U.S. Postal Inspection Service for their work in these investigations. Mr. Rosenstein praised Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mushtaq Gunja and Kenneth S. Clark who prosecuted the drug case and Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam K. Ake, who prosecuted the credit card fraud case.

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