Joplin man, woman indicted for mail theft, wire fraud conspiracy
JOPLIN, Mo. (KY3) - A federal grand jury indicted a Joplin, Mo., man, and woman accused of a conspiracy to steal mail from Joplin residents and in a separate conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud.
Aaron M. Blake, 27, and Emily Anna-Lee Sturgis, 30, were charged in a nine-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Springfield, Mo., on Aug. 29.
The federal indictment alleges that Blake and Sturgis participated in a conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud and, in a separate count, a mail theft conspiracy from December 2022 to Jan. 26. According to the indictment, Blake and Sturgis stole checks, credit cards, debit cards, cash, and documents that contained personal identification information from the mailboxes of their victims in Joplin. The indictment alleges they stole Pandora jewelry from one victim’s mailbox and a Christmas card that contained a $500 check from another victim’s mailbox. The indictment also alleges they stole a W-2 form from a mailbox and used it to fraudulently obtain a credit card; when the credit card was mailed to the victim’s address, they allegedly stole it from the mailbox as well. In another instance, the indictment says, they stole a credit card from a victim’s mailbox and used it to make purchases.
Investigators say Blake and Sturgis used the stolen credit cards to purchase items from area businesses. They say they used the stolen personal identification information of their victims (such as bank account numbers, bank routing numbers, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers) to open other credit and bank accounts.
Blake and Sturgis rented a motel room in Carthage, Mo., the indictment says, where they kept the stolen mail.
In addition to the two conspiracy charges, Blake and Sturgis are charged together with three counts of bank fraud and three counts of possessing stolen mail. Blake is also charged with one count of aggravated identity theft. Deputies with the Jasper County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department responded to a call on Jan. 26, 2023, about the occupants of a blue sedan stealing mail and parcels from residences. The deputies arrested Blake and Sturgis at Casey’s General Store in Carl Junction, Mo., in possession of various pieces of stolen mail.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Casey Clark is prosecuting this case. It was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Carthage, Mo., Police Department, and the Jasper County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department.
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