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Local man pleads guilty in Maryland bank fraud scheme

A Charlottesville man pleaded guilty this week to being part of a $1 million bank fraud conspiracy that took money from numerous financial institutions in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia, federal prosecutors say.

Caesar Adigwe, 32, pleaded guilty on Feb. 17 in the eastern district of the U.S. District Court of Virginia, according to a news release. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, although prosecutors say the length of his sentence could be less. Adigwe is scheduled to be sentenced on June 19.

According to prosecutors, Adigwe was one of four people who engaged in numerous bank card-cracking schemes, depositing counterfeit checks into bank accounts belonging to other people and then making cash withdrawals or purchasing money orders with debit cards associated with the accounts.

The quartet was active from 2013 to 2019 and cashed at least 300 counterfeit checks and opened numerous business accounts using fake IDs, prosecutors said.

According to court documents, the other men in the scheme were all from Maryland. They are Chea Yarl, 31, of Hyattsville, Samuel Smith, 31, of Hagerstown, and Thomas Gherense, 32, of Laurel.

Yarl pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, one count of bank fraud, and one count of aggravated identity theft, and faces a mandatory minimum of two years in prison and a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced June 12.

Smith and Gherense pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. They are scheduled to be sentenced on June 5.

A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account sentencing guidelines and other factors.


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