GREENSVILLE COUNTY, Va. – Investigators say a man has been arrested after he was caught with more than $100,000 worth of stolen business checks during a Greensville County traffic stop.
Lareese Martlelles Mallety, 24, has been charged with theft and receipt of stolen mail and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Investigators say the discovery was made after pulling his vehicle over for swerving and driving 15 miles an hour under the posted speed limit on Interstate 95.
The mail theft charges stem from incidents beginning July 2018 and continuing through October, according to an affidavit filed in federal court this week.
The gun charge came after the October 9 traffic stop when Mallety was discovered with a Smith & Wesson handgun.
In addition to the gun, Mallety was found with 40 business checks, including multiple checks from the Richmond area, three U.S. Mail parcels, a small pry bar, and more.
Mallety told investigators that he made two or three trips to Virginia with a group of individuals who stole mail. One of the locations he specifically mentioned was the Hanover Air Park, according to the affidavit.
Citing his years of experience and information gathered in this investigation, U.S. Postal Inspector Derek M. Mullins said he knows that individuals, specifically from the Fayetteville area of North Carolina and Atlanta, often use rental vehicles to drive to the Richmond area for the purpose of stealing mail.
“These individuals have, for years, targeted the Hanover Air Park, as well as other business parks, as a preferred destination due to the ease of access to a large number of mail receptacles,” wrote Mullins in his affidavit. “These individuals take stolen business checks and alter the name and address located on the ‘Payee’ area of the checks. The information will be changed to the name of an individual, often a homeless individual, who is willing to enter a bank and cash the altered check.”
Mullins said the bank fraud scheme has become known to law enforcement officers as “Operation Homeless.”
Mallety has previously been convicted of four felonies in North Carolina including breaking and entering a vehicle, robbery with a dangerous weapon (2), and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Mallety is being held at Southside Regional Jail in Greensville.