ROCHESTER, N.Y. – U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Steven Ray, 51 of Brockport, NY, who was convicted of mail fraud, forging treasury checks, and obstructing an official proceeding, was sentenced to 84 months in prison by U.S. District Court Judge David G. Larimer. The defendant was also ordered to pay $309,511 in restitution to the United States.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig R. Gestring, who is handling the case, stated that federal law enforcement agents first encountered Ray related to his role in a mail fraud scheme involving stolen United States Treasury checks. In that case, Ray cashed more than 120 forged checks worth more than $400,000 over an 18-month period of time. The checks were stolen from residents in the New York City Area as well as from people in other parts of the United States. The stolen checks were mailed to Ray via the United States Postal Service at his Brockport home.
During that investigation, federal agents identified at least 13 area bank accounts controlled by the defendant under various names, including his own as well as a company he owned named Steray of Rochester. Ray took the stolen checks he received by mail and deposited them across multiple accounts. Many of the checks belonged to people who received Social Security payments, tax refunds, and other money drawn from the United States Treasury to help the intended recipients. As a result of the defendant’s scheme to defraud, Ray obtained more than $400,000, however, the United States was able to recover almost $100,000 from the banks during the investigation.
While out of custody awaiting sentencing on that case, the defendant filed a sentencing statement with the Court in May 2015. Among the items submitted to the Court in support of a downward departure sentence were several claims about Ray’s alleged heroic service as a Brockport Fireman. Specifically, the defendant claimed that he dove into a Brockport swimming pool and pulled a three-year-old unconscious child from the water and then performed CPR until help arrived. Ray also claimed that he was the first on the scene of an incident at SUNY Brockport in which a student fell down a stairwell. In that incident, the defendant claimed to have performed an emergency tracheotomy on the victim using only his penknife. However, the facts showed that his statements were all lies, and that Ray actually did none of these things.
In that same request for a downward departure sentence, the defendant also submitted a letter from a local resident attesting to Ray’s character and truthfulness. However, it turned out the letter was actually a forgery. Federal agents met with the witness who confirmed that he never wrote a letter in support of Ray, did not say the things in the letter, and pointed out that many of the things in the letter, including the spelling of the witness’ own name was wrong. Based on this, the Government filed a notice with the Court pointing out that the defendant submitted false material to the Court for sentencing. Ray received a copy of that statement the day it was filed.
Within hours of receiving that statement, the defendant went to the home of that witness, who is wheelchair bound, and coerced and intimidated him into submitting a false affidavit saying that he had actually written the letter to the Court. Ray did this late at night while the witness was already in bed. The defendant then had the false affidavit notarized and submitted to the Court.
Ray was an Officer with the Brockport Fire Department for the entire time he was engaged in the fraudulent scheme to defraud the United States. He was fired in March of 2015 following his felony plea to mail fraud but retained his Fire Department Badge and ID, which he continued to use after his termination.
The sentencing is the culmination of an investigation on the part of Inspectors from the United States Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Shelly Binkowski, Inspector In Charge of the Boston Division, and Special Agents of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, under the Direction of Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office, Shantelle P. Kitchen.