BISMARCK – Interim United States Attorney Nicholas W. Chase announced that U.S. District Court Judge Daniel L. Hovland sentenced Ryan Gregory Lee, Age 43, from Little Elm, Texas, to 4 years in federal prison for the charges of Bank Fraud, 18 U.S.C. §§ 1344 and 1349; Aggravated Identity Theft, 18 U.S.C. §§ 1028A, 1344 and 1349; and Possession of Stolen Mail, 18 U.S.C. § 1708. Judge Hovland also sentenced Lee to 3 years supervised release, a $700 Special Assessment and $3,477.44 in restitution.
On November 15, 2021, Lee pleaded guilty to four counts of Bank Fraud, two counts of Aggravated Identity Theft, and one count of Possession of Stolen Mail.
Investigation determined between October 2019 and May 2020, Ryan Lee stole mail and checks from residents’ mailboxes located in Dickinson, North Dakota, and later created fraudulent bank accounts utilizing residents’ personal identifying information contained. During this time frame, several Dickinson residents reported to law enforcement that they had mailed checks that did not arrive to their intended recipients. These residents reported that they had placed checks into their mailboxes, usually the night before the mail carrier came to their residences, only to learn that their checks were stolen when they saw the checks information had been altered and not used for their intended purposes. Law enforcement later identified that Lee, during multiple financial transactions, possessed and tendered the reported stolen checks. Lee altered the checks payee information, dollar amounts, and signatures and used other individuals’ personal identifying information to cash or tender these checks as payment at Wal-Mart or at banks in Dickinson. Additionally, law enforcement discovered that Lee used other individuals’ personal identifying information to conduct unlawful financial transactions and create fraudulent bank accounts for his own private gain.
“North Dakotans expect to send and receive personal mail through the United States Postal System securely, without a chance of theft,” said Interim United States Attorney Nicholas W. Chase, and “the United States Attorney’s Office is committed to prosecuting those who steal mail for fraudulent purposes. I encourage North Dakota residents to closely monitor their mail to ensure they do not become targets of mail or identity theft.”
“The safety and security of the U.S. Mail and its customers is core to the mission of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. This case is a tremendous example of how local, state, and federal partners can join together to protect the integrity of the U.S. Mail and aggressively investigate those individuals who use the mail to defraud individuals or businesses of money and property,” said Inspector in Charge Ruth M. Mendonça.
“We are pleased with the adjudication of this case, as both our investigators and those of the United States Postal Service invested significant time and effort into building leads and sifting through transactions,” said Dickinson Police Department Police Chief Dustin D. Dassinger, “We hope this provides Lee’s victims a sense of closure and serves as an example of what can be accomplished with teamwork and strong local-federal partnerships.”
This case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Dickinson Police Department, and the case was prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s office, with Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan J. O’Konek assigned to the case.