Crime - Sacto 911

Elk Grove woman pleads guilty to charges related to mail thefts

An Elk Grove woman has pleaded guilty to bank fraud and aggravated identity theft in connection with a rash of mail thefts in the community.

Keri S. Southwood, 21, entered the plea Tuesday in federal court in Sacramento, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office news release.

Court documents allege that between Oct. 1, 2014, and Feb. 12, 2015, Southwood, along with co-defendants Leonard A. Velasco, 23, and Joseph D. Ryan, 20, both of Elk Grove, damaged or destroyed U.S. Postal Service letter boxes and stole U.S. mail in Elk Grove and elsewhere in Sacramento County. After cataloging the stolen mail, the defendants returned to certain postal customer’s mail boxes to steal replacement credit or debit cards sent to those customers. authorities said.

The defendants also used information found in the stolen mail to apply for credit cards and had the cards sent to an address they controlled. Posing as the victims, the defendants used the credit or debit cards, PINs, and the victims’ names to obtain money, goods and services, authorities said.

Court documents allege that Southwood and her co-defendants possessed U.S. mail stolen from more than 1,000 victims and more than 30 credit cards in victims’ names.

Due to destruction of the mail receptacles, customers lost mail and mail services, and the Postal Services suffered a loss of more than $30,000, authorities said.

Southwood is to be sentenced Dec. 8 by U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez. Velasco pleaded guilty Aug. 25 to bank fraud and aggravated identity theft and is to be sentenced Dec. 15. Each faces up to 30 years in prison for the bank fraud conviction and two years in prison for the aggravated identity theft conviction.

Ryan is scheduled for a status hearing Sept. 15 before Judge Mendez.