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(Tribune News Service) — A woman claiming to work for a nonprofit that supports U.S. troops overseas walked into the post office in Denver, Colo., on July 31, 2019, and ordered more than $30,000 worth of stamps, according to federal court filings.

She paid with six checks — all of which were counterfeit, prosecutors said.

Fanice Reed, also known as Fanice Jones, was sentenced Jan. 4 to two years and three months in prison on charges she bought thousands of dollars worth of stamps by peddling counterfeit checks at post offices in Colorado and Texas, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado said in a news release.

The 45-year-old was also ordered to pay $72,727 in restitution for the alleged fraud, which spanned one year and cost the U.S. Postal Service $258,452, prosecutors said.

“When fraudsters steal from the postal service, they impact America’s most trusted government institution that delivers mail and packages to over 161 million addresses across the United States,” Ruth Mendonça with the Denver Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service said in the release. “Today’s sentence serves as another example of Postal Inspectors’ commitment to protecting the integrity of the U.S. Postal Service.”

A defense attorney appointed to represent Reed did not immediately respond to McClatchy News’ request for comment on Jan. 6.

According to Reed’s plea agreement, the alleged fraud began in February 2019 and continued until March 2020. During that time, prosecutors said, Reed used fake IDs and counterfeit checks that appeared to be from law firms, nonprofits and other businesses.

None of the bank accounts existed.

Reed often told postal workers her law firm needed a bulk order of stamps “for a big mailing that was about to go out,” according to her plea agreement, or that a nonprofit was buying stamps to send to troops overseas.

Reed used the latter scenario on the day she reportedly stole $30,250 worth of postage from the Denver post office.

Prosecutors said she went to the post office twice. During the first visit, she reportedly purchased $679 worth of stamps using a fictional check from “Hope For Our Heroes” and spoke to a supervisor about ordering significantly more.

“Reed told the supervisor that she worked with a nonprofit that intended to put a coil of stamps in each care package that they would be sending to troops,” her plea agreement states.

There weren’t enough stamps to fulfill her request, so Reed left and returned later the same day after the supervisor ordered more. She paid for the stamps in six checks of varying increments — all of which she knew would bounce, prosecutors said.

A grand jury indicted Reed in April and she pleaded guilty to one count of theft of government property in September.

Reed’s defense attorney asked for a prison sentence of two years. Prosecutors, meanwhile, asked for a sentence of 27 months.

They told the judge this is Reed’s third felony conviction for fraud.

“Instead of having learned her lesson from her prior convictions, defendant Reed appears to have focused on improving her criminal trade craft,” the government said in court filings. “... (She) used false and stolen personal identities, rented cars to use during the crimes to hide her identity, traveled back and forth between Texas and Colorado in order to make the full scope of her crime more difficult to trace back to her, and frequently pretended to be working on behalf of a non-profit that supported military troops overseas.”

The judge ultimately sided with the government. As part of her final judgment, Reed was instructed to report to prison before noon within 15 days of being designated to a facility.

©2022 The Charlotte Observer.

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