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Columbus woman sentenced for cashing stolen treasury checks

COLUMBUS — Michael J. Moore, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, announced that Wytrenia Reynolds, 44, of Columbus was sentenced Tuesday to serve five years (61 months) in federal prison for theft of government property, aggravated identity theft and possession of stolen U.S. Treasury checks. She was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $39,000. The sentence was handed down by Chief U.S. District Court Judge Clay D. Land in Columbus.

Reynolds was found guilty of the charges on Sept. 25, 2014, following a four-day jury trial. Evidence presented at trial showed that in September 2010, Reynolds cashed or attempted to cash three stolen treasury checks at Navy Federal Credit Union in Columbus. All three of these checks were payable to individuals living in the metro Atlanta area. All three checks bore forged endorsements and were presented by Reynolds without the permission or authority of the intended recipient.

In October and November of 2010, Reynolds cashed 13 stolen Treasury checks at a package store in Columbus. The payees for these checks primarily were residents of the Atlanta area, although two lived Alabama.

In January 2011, agents recovered three stolen Social Security checks in a vehicle leased by Reynolds. These checks were payable to elderly victims living in Thomaston and Ellenwood.

In addition to the checks listed above, other government checks were found in Reynolds’ possession. These checks were determined to be stolen by a worker or workers at the U.S. Post Office in Atlanta. The total face value of the checks possessed, cashed, or attempted to be cashed by Reynolds was approximately $515,000.

U.S. Attorney Moore said, “Identity theft is an ever-increasing problem across the country. Victims have their lives invaded in a way that often causes long lasting financial consequences; businesses are forced to implement costly security procedures; and consumers are left looking over their shoulders for fear that someone has stolen their personal information. With every check that is issued or every credit card that is swiped, we are vulnerable to criminals who are willing to steal our personal information for their own gain. As we put our resources into these cases, we are sending the message that if prosecuting identity thieves is a way to protect other victims, then that is exactly what my office will do.”

Special Agent in Charge Thomas Caul, Office of the Inspector General, Social Security Administration stated, “Social Security payments are a lifeline for many Americans who are unable to work due to a temporary or permanent disability. Our office is gratified by the U.S. Attorney’s shared commitment to investigate and prosecute those who defraud Social Security trust funds. One of our highest priorities is ensuring that those who steal SSA payments are swiftly detected and prosecuted. Social Security fraud affects all Americans. The individual convicted today is a testament to our serious commitment to pursuing those who would victimize Social Security beneficiaries.”

“The Secret Service remains committed to protecting our nation’s financial security, to include aggressively investigating those responsible for stealing and cashing United States Treasury checks. Along with our law enforcement partners we will continue to pursue those committing these crimes,” said Clint A. Bush, resident agent in charge, Albany, Georgia Resident Office, United States Secret Service.

The case was investigated by Special Agent Teresa Hudson of the United States Secret Service and Special Agent Pablo Griffiths of the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mel Hyde prosecuted the case for the Government.