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3 Los Angeles men face federal charges in mail theft scheme, targeting checks

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CBS News Los Angeles Live

Three Los Angeles men face federal mail theft and bank fraud charges for allegedly targeting U.S. post office docks, looking for checks federal prosecutors announced Wednesday. 

Antonio Hernandez, 20, Ivan Murillo-Hernandez, 20, and Alexis Garcia Martinez, 28, all from the Highland Park area have been federally charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and other charges. Investigators say the group stole at least $800,000 from victims.

According to the indictment, from November 2022 to August 2023, Hernandez, Murillo-Hernandez, and others stole mail from U.S. post office docks and other locations in the mail stream, at times using threats of violence, specifically stealing checks.

They allegedly used Instagram to find third parties to deposit the stolen money in their bank accounts, and once led police on a high-speed chase on a freeway, dumping mail out a car window.

Hernandez is also charged with one count of bank fraud, one count of aggravated identity theft, one count of robbery of a post office, and one count of mail theft. Murillo-Hernandez also is charged with one count of mail theft.

Martinez allegedly provided knowledge and vehicles to Hernandez and others to commit post office back dock thefts.

The indictment alleges mail thefts from a Highland Park apartment building as well as from post offices in Studio City, Azusa, Upland, Anaheim, El Segundo, and Beverly Hills. The defendants allegedly attempted to steal mail from a La Mirada post office but were unsuccessful.

Also, Hernandez and Murillo-Hernandez sold and attempted to sell stolen checks to others who fraudulently cashed them, the indictment states.

The defendants allegedly recruited at least three people under the age of 18 in the scheme.

Hernandez and Murillo-Hernandez have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them and are scheduled to go to trial on July 8.

If convicted, the defendants would face a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison for the bank fraud conspiracy charge. Hernandez also would face up to 30 years in federal prison for the bank fraud count, up to 10 years in federal prison for the post office robbery count, and a two-year mandatory consecutive prison sentence for the aggravated identity theft count. 

Hernandez and Murillo-Hernandez would face up to five years in federal prison for the mail theft count.

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