A Camden man pleaded guilty Thursday to a scheme involving cashing checks stolen from curbside mail boxes in business industrial parks in Camden, Gloucester, and Burlington counties.
Appearing before U.S. District Judge Jerome B. Simandle in federal court in Camden, Michael A. Ingalls, 35, of Camden, admitted to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of possessing stolen mail.
Ingalls and Ibn Muhammad, 35, of Camden, a co-conspirator, would recruit helpers to cash the checks. Once they had the recruits, they would alter the checks to make them appear as if they were made out to the helpers, according to federal documents.
They cashed $300,000 in checks and attempted to cash another $300,000. The scheme involved more than 100 checks.
Ingalls' plea on possessing stolen mail stemmed from a motor vehicle violation. New Jersey state police discovered mail stolen from business industrial parks in Brookfield, Conn., when they stopped Ingalls for speeding on the New Jersey Turnpike on Feb. 27, 2011, according to federal documents.
Ingalls faces a possible 35 years in prison, plus fines of more than $1 million. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 5. Muhammad's sentencing is set for June 17. He pleaded guilty to bank fraud and theft of mail on Dec. 3. Andrew Fortune, 62, of Camden, was arrested and charged in the conspiracy. His case is pending. - Jane M. Von Bergen