The United States Department of Justice Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland announced last Wednesday, December 22, that a Florida man will serve 54 months imprisonment for stealing more than 2,000 checks payable to religious institutions.
As per The Christian Post, the man is 52-year-old Romanian Nicolae Gindac who was also ordered to pay $1,096,660.11 in restitution for a bank and wire fraud conspiracy he undertook with five other co-conspirators.
Gindac, who resides in Dania Beach, was sentenced with imprisonment by U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang. Gindac will be given three years of "supervised release" after his imprisonment for the bank and wire fraud involving the 2,000 checks.
"According to his plea agreement, from at least June 2018 to January 2021, Gindac and at least five co-conspirators stole and negotiated checks from the U.S. mail intended for religious institutions. Gindac's co-conspirators executed the thefts by driving to roadside mailboxes and directly removing the mail from the religious institutions' mailboxes," the Department of Justice said.
The Department also disclosed that Gindac and his co-conspirators opened fraudulent bank accounts as part of their scheme to defraud. The said bank accounts were opened under false identities in several financial institutions that fell victim to Gindac's scheme.
The checks were then negotiated through ATMs. The fraudulent bank accounts were created under the name of Gindac's family members, that included minors, and into which he deposited the stolen checks. Once the funds had cleared into the fraudulent bank accounts, Gindac and his co-conspirators would spend the funds using debit cards.
"As detailed in his plea agreement, Gindac deposited or was present when at least $64,811.03 was deposited into 13 fraudulent accounts. The fraudulent accounts received a total of approximately $139,057.58 from 143 stolen checks," the Department of Justice stated.
"In total, the conspiracy received at least $1,065,282.53 from 2,477 stolen checks," they added.
Gindac was arrested on February 6, 2021. His sentence was announced by several local officials that included U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek Barron, U.S. Postal Inspection Service Postal Inspector in Charge Daniel Adame, and Williamson County Sheriff Dusty Rhoades.
During Gindac's arrest, approximately $7,930.38 in cash was recovered from him along with a Rolex men's yellow-gold and diamond-encrusted watch. Accordingly, he used some of the funds he stole to buy himself a BMW 745i Sport sedan.
The co-conspirators of Gindac are 37-year-old Vlad Baceanu, 30-year-old Florin Vaduva, 36-year-old Marian Unguru, 19-year-old Vali Unguru, 43-year-old Daniel Velcu, and 29-year-old Mateus Vaduva. A co-defendant, 27-year-old Marius Vaduva, has been scheduled for re-arraignment on January 6.
The Velcu and the Ungurus are from Baltimore, Maryland and Mateus and Marius Vaduva are from Hollywood, Florida. While Baceanu and Florin Vaduva is said to have been recently extradited to the United States from Romania and United Kingdom, respectively. These two co-conspirators are awaiting trial.
Christianity Daily previously reported similar accounts of fraud cases involving the church. One involved 50-year-old NewLife City Church Pastor Joshua Olatokunbo Shonubi who was indicted in October for arranging the fraudulent marriage of 60 couples in exchange for thousands of dollars. The said marriages were arranged so that the foreign spouse could secure permanent residency in the United States. Shonubi faces two counts of five years of imprisonment for his charges once convicted.
Last November, a 52-year-old church employee, Lisa Dawn Stabeno, was sentenced to at least five years and six months of imprisonment for stealing $450,000 since 2014 from her congregation, Church on the Rock.