Pittsburgh man offers guilty plea to bank fraud, fabricating letter from former Secretary of State in his favor

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – A Pittsburgh man pleaded guilty in federal court today to crimes related to stealing customers’ information and money from the banks at which he was employed. The defendant also submitted a fake letter to the Court purportedly from former Secretary of State and retired four-star general Colin Powell in support of a lenient sentence for the defendant.

 

Keith D. O’Kelly, 51, offered a guilty plea in U.S. District Court today to bank fraud and using a false document.

 


According to his plea document, in 2017 and 2018, O’Kelly gained employment at various banks and used the Social Security number of another individual while applying for employment.

 

Once employed at the banks, O’Kelly accessed and obtained the banking information of multiple customers to initiate unauthorized payments and transactions for his own financial benefit. For example, in December 2017, while employed as a bank manager, O’Kelly used the information of two bank customers to pay $10,000 toward his own personal credit account.

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In January 2020, while on pretrial release, O’Kelly applied for employment at another bank and once again falsely represented a Social Security number as his own.

 

In March 2021, O’Kelly submitted a fraudulent letter to the Court in relation to a contemplated sentence for his bank fraud conduct. The letter was purportedly from former Secretary of State Colin Powell and recounted a personal story and support in favor of a lenient sentence for O’Kelly. When the United States asked for a point of contact to authenticate the letter, O’Kelly purchased a new phone and provided the number to the government. The government called the number and received a call back from a person claiming to be Powell’s personal assistant of 12 years. The caller said Powell dictated the letter for him to send to O’Kelly. O’Kelly admitted to fabricating the letter and being the caller.

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Bank fraud is a federal crime punishable by up to 30 years in prison. Using a false document carries a potential sentence of up to five years in prison. Congress sets the minimum and maximum statutory sentences. Sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the Court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.

 

Vipal J. Patel, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, and Dan Leeper, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Division, announced the plea offered today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Norah McCann King. Assistant United States Attorney Brenda S. Shoemaker and Special Assistant United States Attorney Christopher N. St. Pierre are representing the United States in this case.

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