Most of the identity theft victims were New York residents, but withdrawals were made at several TD Bank locations in New Jersey, including Absecon, Northfield, Galloway Township, Somers Point, Cherry Hill, Haddonfield, Stratford, Gloucester Township, Washington Township (Gloucester County), Deptford, West Deptford, Mantua, Glassboro, Mullica Hill, Williamstown and East Windsor.
Seven defendants were charged on Oct. 28 by a state grand jury on second-degree charges of conspiracy, theft by deception and identity theft. They include:* Bronthie K. Charles, 27, of Brooklyn, N.Y., a former teller at TD Bank.
* Divine D. Garcia Jr., 28, of Jersey City, N.J.
* Robert A. Wadiak, 47, of Roselle Park, N.J.
* Kenneth L. Cummings, 53, of Philadelphia, Pa.
* Blanche R. Lopez, 43, of Cliffside Park, N.J.
* Rosa Samuels, 59, of Bronx, N.Y.
* Demira D. Woodson, 22, of Roselle Park, N.J.
Cummings and Woodson also are charged with two counts each of third-degree money laundering.
The eighth defendant, Antonio Clemente, 34, of the Bronx, N.Y., was arrested this week by Division of Criminal Justice detectives and members of the U.S. Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force.
Garcia, the alleged leader of the ring, was arrested on Nov. 5 at LaGuardia Airport by members of the U.S. Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey Police.
Clemente allegedly helped run the ring by recruiting individuals to pose as bank account holders. He is charged with second-degree conspiracy, theft by deception and identity theft.
Charles allegedly stole the identities of TD Bank customers while working for the bank in New York from January 2012 through May 2013, and provided the information to Garcia.
The other members of the ring allegedly fraudulently assumed the identities of TD Bank customers to steal funds from TD Bank branch offices. Wadiak was allegedly involved in thefts of $111,500.
Altogether, they are charged in connection with 21 thefts across the state between April and July, totaling $155,500. Values of individual thefts ranged from $3,500 to $9,000, and eight different identities were used to pull off the heists.
Those posing as the victims were armed with forged New York driver’s licenses and withdrawal slips that were already filled out.
Fake account holders included drug addicts and homeless people who were sometimes provided with clothing to wear in the banks. TD Bank sustained the losses as a result of the thefts.
Pending extradition, Garcia is being held in jail on Rikers Island in New York, and Clemente is also in custody in New York City. Wadiak is being held in the Atlantic County Jail. Samuels is in jail in Bucks County, Pa. The other defendants were issued summonses to appear for arraignment on Dec. 20 in Superior Court in Camden County.
Defendants face five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000 for the second degree charges, while the third-degree money laundering charges carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $75,000.
“Identity theft is a major concern for financial institutions and an even greater concern for account holders, particularly in this era of electronic transactions,” Hoffman said in a prepared statement. “To protect the public, we will aggressively prosecute criminals who violate the financial sanctity and privacy of consumers and businesses, whether they commit their crimes on the Internet or, as alleged with these defendants, take an old-school approach by using a teller’s window at a bank branch office.”