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United States v. Mendesh

United States District Court, S.D. New York

June 8, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
DIANA MENDESH, Defendant.

          SENTENCING OPINION

          SWEET, D.J.

         On November 7, 2016, Diana Mendesh ("Defendant" or "Mendesh") pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and false use of passport. Based on the conclusions set forth below, Mendesh will be sentenced to 27 months' imprisonment followed by two (2) years' supervised release, subject to the scheduled sentencing hearing on June 13, 2017.

         Prior Proceedings

         Mendesh is named in a two-count information filed in the Southern District of New York on April 5, 2013. Count One charges that in or about August 2011 to March 2012, in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere, Mendesh and others

(5) any pertinent policy statement [issued by the Sentencing Commission];
(6) the need to avoid unwarranted sentence disparities among defendants with similar records who have been found guilty of similar conduct; and
(7) the need to provide restitution to any victims of the offense.

18 U.S.C. § 3553(a). A sentencing judge is permitted to find all the facts appropriate for determining a sentence, whether that sentence is a so-called Guidelines sentence or not. See Crosby, 397 F.3d at 114-15.

         The Defendant

         The Court adopts the facts set forth in the Presentence Investigation Report ("PSR") with respect to Defendant's personal and family history.

         The Offense Conduct

         The Court adopts the facts set forth in the PSR with respect to the offense conduct. These facts are summarized, in brief form, below.

         The FBI uncovered a criminal scheme to defraud banks and businesses in which computer hackers used a malicious computer program to obtain access to victims' bank accounts and fraudulently transfer funds out of the victims' accounts into bank accounts opened by "money mules" or "mules" for the scheme. The money mules sometimes opened bank accounts in their own names, but often used fake passports. Once the wire transfers were received in the mule accounts, the mules withdrew the fraudulently-acquired funds and distributed them to other members of the conspiracy, keeping a portion for themselves.

         Mendesh was a money mule who participated in this scheme. She is a Ukrainian national who was issued a J-l visa to travel to the United States, and entered the United States on May 25, 2011.

         On August 23, 2011, at a TD Bank located in Ocean City, Maryland, Mendesh opened an account using a copy of her J-l visa. On September 12, 2011, $19, 853 was wire transferred into her account from a victim's account at another bank. The victim did not authorize the transfer. On September 12 and 13 of 2011, a total of $1, 263 was withdrawn from Mendesh's account through ATM withdrawals in Maryland. Mendesh's account was subsequently frozen.

         On September 28, 2011, a jewelry store was contacted by a male seeking to purchase ten diamonds and identifying the pickup person as "Dianna Mendesh." The male sent a copy of a fraudulently altered Lithuanian passport, and later that day, Mendesh arrived at the store to pick up the diamonds. The store did not provide the diamonds because the funds had not yet been transferred. On October 24, 2011, $139, 986.03 was transferred from the bank account of another victim to the store. The victim did not authorize this transfer.

         On October 20, 2011, a wire transfer for $175, 756.91 was made from the bank account of another victim to a second jewelry store located in Manhattan. The victim did not authorize the transfer. The store had been contacted by an unidentified male seeking to purchase watches. The wire transfer was made for the purchase of those watches, and the watches were picked up by Mendesh, who used a fraudulently altered Lithuanian passport.

         On October 26, 2011, at a Citibank branch in Manhattan, Mendesh, purporting to be "Dianna Mendesh, " opened a bank account using a Lithuanian passport with a false date of birth. On January 17, 2012, $10, 350 was wire transferred into this account from another victim's account. The victim did not authorize the transfer. A total ...


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