Three Oswego County residents are among 9 people who have admitted taking part in a ring that cashed stolen and altered checks.
The United States Attorney’s Office announced the guilty pleas of:
- Wallik Ryer, 37, of Oswego;
- Diana Sacco, 29, of Fulton, and;
- Charles Koflan, 55, of Pennelville.
The ring stole more than $140,000 in the eight months it was operating, prosecutors say. They allege the ring worked this way:
Ring leaders, including Ryer, recruited vulnerable people — such as homeless people or drug addicts — to cash the checks they stole from the mailboxes of businesses in Syracuse, Oswego and Binghamton.
The checks would be altered, with the name of the new recruit as the person to be paid.
In return for cashing the stolen check, the person would get a small sum of money.
Ryer met Sacco in December, 2010, according to Sacco’s signed plea agreement. She agreed to cash a check for him. Ryer taught her how to handle herself in the bank — be friendly, and at the first sign of trouble, leave the bank.
On Dec. 28, Ryer drove Sacco to Alliance Bank on Route 104.
He gave her a check from Joy Process Mechanical that had been made out to G. A. Race for $1,700. Race’s name was gone from the check, replaced by Sacco’s.
She cashed the check without a problem, gave the money to Ryer, and got her small share of the proceeds.
In January, 2011, she cashed a check for $4,903.26 in the same manner, the indictment alleges.
Koflan cashed a check January 25, 2011 for $3,520 from 360 Warren Associates, LLC at Key Bank in Oswego. He had cashed a check for $3,510 at a bank in Liverpool the day before.
The indictment alleges that a check for $2,950.89 from Oswego County Opportunities was altered and cashed on Nov. 9, 2010.
Ryer, whose nicknames were “Puzzle” and “Dutch”, faces approximately 5 years in prison under his plea agreeement. Koflan and Sacco may spend up to 10 months in prison under their plea agreement. They also face hefty fines and restitution.
Under the original charges against them, they could spend up to 30 years in prison. But the documents appear to lay out, under federal sentencing guidelines, the shorter prison terms. The judge is free to ignore those guidelines.
Ryer will be sentenced June 17. Sacco and Koflan are scheduled to be sentenced two days later.