Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Two plead guilty in west Charlotte mail fraud case involving $8.8 million in stolen checks

A U.S. Postal carrier and her husband pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to charges related to a mail theft scheme in west Charlotte that involved more than $8.8 million worth of stolen checks.

Kiara Padgett, 29, of Waxhaw, and her spouse, Dominique Dunlap, 28, of Charlotte, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Dunlap also pleaded guilty to four counts of possession of stolen mail.

From August 2021 to November 2022, while Padgett was a mail carrier with a route in west Charlotte, she stole incoming and outgoing checks of businesses and individuals, according to court records. Padgett sold the stolen checks using Dunlap as her intermediary to other individuals. One of those individuals was Terrell Alexander Hager Jr., according to court records.

The face value of checks stolen by Padgett was more than $8.8 million. Dunlap negotiated with Hager about the sale of the stolen checks over text messages and sent Hager photographs of stacks of stolen mail and stolen checks from Padgett’s postal route, according to court records.

Hager and others obtained stolen checks from Padgett through Dunlap, and Hager and his co-conspirators deposited the stolen checks into bank accounts they controlled. They then made cash withdrawals before the banks detected the fraud, according to court records.

Over the course of the scheme, Hager and his co-conspirators deposited more than $66,000 in stolen checks and money orders. Hager also posted online for sale more than 400 stolen checks totaling over $7.3 million.

Padgett, Dunlap, and Hager face a maximum prison term of 30 years and a $1 million fine for the bank fraud conspiracy charge. Dunlap also faces five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each of the charges of possession of stolen mail.

A sentencing date has not been set.

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