Indianapolis check scam leader Frank Powell sentenced to 134 months

(STL.News) – United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler announced today, Frank Powell a/k/a “Bread”, 29, Indianapolis, Ind., was sentenced to 134 months in federal prison for orchestrating a large-scale fraud ring, bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft.

“Mr. Powell’s career of lies, deceit and fraud are over,” said Minkler.  “Nothing says that louder than the sound of a federal prison door slamming shut on a 12 year sentence.  This prosecution should remind those out there who defraud local businesses and banks – particularly those with lengthy criminal histories of theft, fraud, and deception – that they will face real consequences.”

From 2017 through April 2018, Powell and others presented and used fraudulent checks at Indianapolis Kroger stores and in at least 12 other states, to purchase gift cards and merchandise.  Powell recruited and trained over 20 “runners” to cash checks at Kroger stores nationwide, including co-conspirators Javonte Wright, Anthony Duerson, and Antionne Brewster.

Powell printed the fraudulent checks and distributed them to the “runners”, and received a cut of the profits.  The scope of this retail scheme was far-reaching, touching on at least 12 states with more than 5,000 fraudulent checks, resulting in losses exceeding $300,000.

In addition to the retail scheme, Powell attempted to defraud a local bank and car dealership when he tried to obtain financing to purchase a Cadillac Escalade using the identity of another person. Without the knowledge or authorization of the victim, Powell used a fraudulent Illinois driver’s license along with the name, address and social security number of the victim during the loan application process, which was ultimately stopped by the dealership.

Co-conspirators Wright and Duerson were previously sentenced to 30 months and 24 months respectively.  Co-conspirator Brewster has not yet been sentenced.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Fishers Police Department, Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office, Carmel Police Department, Johnson County Sheriff’s Department, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and Kroger’s Organized Retail Crime Investigators, Central Division.

“This sentence should send a clear message to anyone contemplating financial fraud, or any criminal activity, that the FBI will aggressively investigate those committing illegal acts and bring those activities to a grinding halt,” said Special Agent in Charge Paul Keenan, FBI Indianapolis.  “It also highlights the strong relationships we have with our law enforcement partners in pursuit of those who take advantage of others through their illegal and criminal behavior.”

Kroger praised its lead investigator for his “tenacious efforts” to help stop this group.  Spokesman Eric Halvorson said, “Kroger is pleased with the outcome of the case and appreciates the hard work of law enforcement officers and prosecutors.  Their diligence in combatting fraud and theft is an important strategy to help keep prices low for our customers.”

According to Assistant United States Attorney MaryAnn T. Mindrum, who prosecuted this case for the government, Powell must also serve five years of supervised release following his sentence.

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