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Minn. man sentenced to 5 years in fake check scheme across 3 states

SIOUX FALLS, S.D.—A Minneapolis man who stole mail from affluent neighborhoods in the city and then created fraudulent checks that an accomplice would cash at convenience stores and casinos throughout Minnesota, South Dakota and Iowa has been sent to prison for more than five years.

Jason Maurice Fagin, 38, was sentenced Thursday, Feb. 8, in federal court in Sioux Falls by U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier for his convictions on conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. Besides the prison time, he also was ordered to pay restitution.

According to court documents, Fagin and Angelica Marie Hatch-Pequin would steal from mailboxes in wealthy neighborhoods, targeting mail that appeared to contain bills and checks. Fagin would use the personal, business and banking information found in the mail to create fraudulent checks, and Hatch-Pequin then would usually cash the counterfeit checks at stores and casinos.

Payroll checks would be drafted in amounts ranging from $450 to $2,000. Personal checks were made out in amounts from $100 to $800. In all, the U.S. attorney's office estimates the pair cashed between $40,000 and $95,000 in bad checks.

Prosecutors said Fagin would often use the money to purchase meth for his own personal use and also to sell to others.

The criminal incidents occurred between September and November 2016, and the two were indicted last May.

The scheme came to an end on Nov. 16, 2016, when the pair was arrested at the Royal River Casino & Hotel in Flandreau, about 40 miles north of Sioux Falls. While trying to negotiate one of the counterfeit checks there, Hatch presented a driver's license belonging to another individual, which eventually led to the arrests.

Fagin, who pleaded guilty to the two charges in November, was taken into custody by the U.S. Marshal Service.

Hatch-Pequin, who pleaded guilty to the same charges, was previously sentenced to federal prison.

Conducting the investigation was the FBI, the Flandreau Sioux Tribe's police and casino security department and the Flandreau city police.

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