GREENBELT, Md. (WJZ) — A Baltimore man has pleaded guilty to his role in a bank and wire fraud conspiracy. Investigators said the defendant received over $1 million in stolen checks intended for religious institutions.

According to the plea agreement, Daniel Velcu, 43, conspired with five other foreign nationals from June 2018 to October 2020 to steal checks and donations for religious institutions through U.S. mail. Authorities said Velcu and his co-conspirators would drive to the roadside mailboxes of the various institutions and remove the mail from their mailboxes.

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Velcu along with his co-conspirators fraudulently opened bank accounts under false identities at more than four victim financial institutions. He would often use ATM machines at the respective bank locations to deposit and withdraw the stolen funds into accounts owned by himself or a member of his family.

Officials executed a search and seizure warrant at Velcu’s residence on October 9, 2020. Authorities found documents pertaining to at least one fraudulent bank account along with fraudulent french identity documents with a fake name.

During the investigation, officials learned that Velcu negotiated a minimum of 70 checks totaling to at least $40,357.50 from religious institutions in Maryland, Virginia, Ohio, North Carolina, Minnesota and Georgia. The accounts Velcu personally deposited checks into received at least $48,987.44 from 101 stolen checks.

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Eight additional accounts in the name of Velcu or a family member received at least approximately $82,872.65 from approximately 145 stolen checks, and at least that amount was withdrawn.

His co-defendants, Marian Unguru and Nicolae Gindac, both pleaded guilty to the same charges. Unguru’s sentencing is scheduled for July 28 at 10:00 a.m. Gindac’s sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 31 at 2:00 p.m.

Velcu faces up to 30 years in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release. His sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 29 at 9:30 a.m.

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As part of his plea agreement, Velcu has agreed to pay restitution in the full amount of the victim’s losses, which is at least $1,244,056.77.

CBS Baltimore Staff