Police arrested a New York man Thursday for allegedly altering a check that was stolen when the large drive-thru mailbox was broken into at the US. Postal Service on Monroe Turnpike in October.
All of the mail was stolen sometime between Oct. 14 and 15, leading to an investigation by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Monroe Police Department.
Kevin Ceballos-Vasquez, 22, of 2140 Madison Ave., apartment 12E in New York, N.Y., was arrested for allegedly altering a $6,150 check to make it $6,950, putting his name in place of who it was made out to and cashing it.
He was charged with second-degree identity theft and third-degree forgery and released on $15,000 bond for a Feb. 7 court date.
Though Ceballos-Vasquez was not charged for the mailbox heist itself, police say the investigation is ongoing. Since the mail theft, police have received several complaints of fraud in which checks were altered and cashed.
On Oct. 15, police said Ceballos-Vasquez cashed the check, that a Monroe resident had deposited in the mail before the heist, at a Citibank ATM in the Bronx.
In a Facebook post, the Monroe Police Department had asked residents who dropped mail in the drive-thru mailbox at the 270 Monroe Turnpike facility after 4 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 14, and before 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 15, to monitor their accounts for fraudulent activity and to report any instance of fraud to them.
The non-emergency number for the Monroe Police Department is 203-261-3622.
SUV hits a tree
A Danbury man was driving his Chevrolet Equinox south on Monroe Turnpike Thursday morning when it went into a slide as he tried to turn left onto Wheeler Road and struck a tree.
The driver, Harrison Herdzik, 21, of Tanglewood Drive, complained of minor back pain, but refused transport to a hospital, according to police. His damaged SUV was towed.
The crash occurred in the 800-block of Route 111 at around 10:04 a.m., police said.
Arrest for stolen checks
A Bridgeport man was arrested at Superior Court Wednesday on a warrant charging him with allegedly cashing of a check, stolen from A&B Mechanical in Monroe in February of 2019.
Tyrone L. Ruffin, 49, of 1284 Park Ave., was charged with third-degree larceny, second-degree forgery and sixth-degree larceny. Bond was set at $7,500 and he was arraigned the same day.
In February, A&B Mechanical dropped off three checks for payments, but it never made it to the vendors.
Ruffin changed the name on a $5,234 check to his and cashed it at a People’s United Bank in Glastonbury, police said.
Then he attempted to cash a $5,454 check at a People’s branch in Enfield. The bank teller was unable to verify it and didn’t perform the transaction, according to the report.
Police said Ruffin then went to a People’s branch inside a Stop & Shop supermarket in Enfield and tried to cash a third check for $6,294. But the teller got ahold of someone at A&B, who said it was fraudulent.
Enfield police officers later arrested Ruffin on a warrant for attempting to cash two fraudulent checks. Monroe then served its warrant on Wednesday.
An elaborate scam
The manager of the Bank of America branch on Monroe Turnpike may have prevented a $35,129 loss for Edgerton Inc. following an elaborate scam in January.
On Jan. 24, police said Edgerton’s finance director received an email, he thought was from the owner of the company, asking him to pay a $35,129 invoice via a wire transfer to a Bank of America account.
Police said an invoice was attached to the email with the company’s letterhead.
The finance director made the transfer. But then on Monday, he realized the email address was different than the company owner’s.
After learning it a case of fraud, police said he contacted the bank but found the transfer already went through.
Police officers went to the Monroe branch and the manager said the transfer was traced to a Bank of America account opened in Maryland in October. The bank detected a lot of suspicious activity on the account, including transfers to people in Africa, according to police.
The manager was able to put a hold on the account to prevent the $35,129 from being withdrawn from it.
Road closing on Judd Road
The Easton Public Works Department notified the town they will be closing Judd Road next week, between Hiram Hill Road and Route 59, while performing extensive tree work.
Police said the worked will be done during daytime hours from Feb. 3 through Feb. 7 and drivers should seek alternate routes.