For as many government entitlement programs as there are, there are a number of ways to commit fraud. People commit fraud against the unemployment program, Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps, social security, and more. Aldermen commit fraud against government initiatives and then funnel the money to their own personal coffers. Now, a Chicago man is facing charges that he conspired with a post office employee to steal economic relief checks from the mail and cash them.
Akeem Kosoko, 26, is facing one count of conspiracy to steal mail and government funds, three counts of embezzlement of government property, and three counts of receipt of stolen mail. The indictment says that Kosoko conspired with his brother, who was a postal worker, who is also facing a conspiracy charge. The defendants are facing federal charges.
Theft of Government Funds
Theft of government funds almost always involves some element of identity theft, just not in this case. Typically, an identity thief will get someone else’s information and open up a checking account in their name. They use this checking account to cash something like relief checks that they could not just deposit into their own account. In this case, the suspect is alleged to have used his brother to get $1,200 stimulus checks directly from the mail. Since the amount stolen was over $1,000, the two men can be charged with theft of government funds and conspiracy to steal government funds. The maximum penalty for this crime is 10 years, but you should expect that since this defendant is alleged to have stolen money that was desperately needed during a pandemic, that his sentence will be closer to the long end than the short end.
Embezzlement of Government Funds
This charge is similar to theft of government funds and carries the same 10-year maximum sentence. In this case, when money is diverted from an expected recipient to someone else who is not authorized to manage that money, embezzlement has occurred. Typically, an embezzler is in a position of temporary power over the money and then diverts it for their own purposes. In this case, the mail carrier had temporary power over the checks and then diverted it. That makes it embezzlement.
Embezzlement carries a maximum 10-year sentence and/or a fine of $100,000. This defendant is facing three counts of embezzlement.
Since these charges involve the U.S. mail and public funds, the defendants will face charges in federal, as opposed to state court. If convicted, the sentence will be imposed based on the federal sentencing chart which seeks mandatory minimums based on the severity of certain crimes. A 15 to 20-year sentence for this defendant is possible, even with a negotiated plea.
Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you have been accused of diverting public funds to your own wallet, you can face federal charges. You will need a criminal defense attorney who is experienced handling federal cases in federal court. Call David Freidberg today at (312) 560-7100 and we can begin building your defense immediately.