Florida man pleads guilty to stealing checks intended for churches

GREENBELT, Md. (AP) — A Florida man has pleaded guilty in connection with the theft of more than 2,600 checks intended for religious institutions in several states that were deposited into fake bank accounts, a federal prosecutor in Maryland said.

Florin Vaduva, 31, of Dania Beach, Florida, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud. The plea agreement orders Vaduva to pay at least $1 million restitution, U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron announced Tuesday in a news release.

The guilty plea says that from June 2018 to January 2021, Vaduva and at least five others conspired to steal checks intended for religious institutions and deposit them into multiple fraudulent bank accounts. The checks were stolen from roadside mailboxes.

Vaduva and the co-conspirators deposited the stolen checks into bank accounts through ATMs, then withdrew money and spent the proceeds using debit cards.

During five months in 2020, Vaduva deposited or was part of the deposit of at least 49 stolen checks totaling more than $27,000 from churches in Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia into five fraudulently opened bank accounts. Vaduva was apprehended last September.

Vaduva faces up to 30 years in prison and five years of supervised release when he is sentenced on Aug. 8.

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