KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A Holland man who pleaded guilty to identity theft involving stolen mail may be back at it.
Zachary Stephen Thomas is charged with four counts of bank fraud, three counts of aggravated identity theft, theft and possession of stolen mail and passing a Treasury check with a false or forged endorsement.
The federal indictment unsealed late Friday accuses Thomas of regularly stealing mail from mailboxes in Kent, Ottawa and Allegan counties as well as other areas in West Michigan from July 2018 to October 2018. Federal authorities say Thomas took replacement bank checks, other checks, driver’s licenses, social security account number cards, tax documents and other papers with personal identity information.
Thomas is accused of using the stolen personal information to open “informed delivery” online accounts with the U.S. Postal Service, which allowed him to see scanned images of the victims’ mail slated for delivery that day.
Thomas is among a group of people accused of altering names, forging check signatures and writing out stolen checks to others involved in the scheme. The checks were then deposited via ATM or smartphone into bank accounts opened in the names of the victims or the others involved in the plot, the indictment states.
Federal authorities say Thomas was successful in depositing more than $7,600 in stolen money into bank accounts, which he drained to buy products and services until the banks noticed the cashed checks were bogus.
The grand jury indictment states one of the checks Thomas tried to cash was a Treasury check for $141,073.49 that he allegedly forged the signature on.
Thomas previously pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft in 2016 in connection to a similar scheme. He agreed to pay $20,000 in restitution and cooperate in other investigations as part of the plea deal.
In November 2016, Thomas was sentenced to 2 years in prison. He was released on probation in February 2018, but violated the conditions of his release 14 times, according to federal court documents. The violations included failure to report to his probation officer, having contact with his girlfriend who is a convicted felon, using methamphetamine, and possessing marijuana, LSD and meth with intent to distribute it.
Federal court documents show Thomas was arrested on Oct. 23, 2018 inside a Michigan City, Indiana hotel with the drugs, baggies, a digital scale, two cellphones and three bank cards, two of which were in his girlfriend’s name.