Two people face sentencing for attempting to defraud a bank in Edwardsville.
Authorities said Elvin Lugo-Cales, 47, of Orlando, Fla., and Johnny Collado, 30, of Bronx, N.Y., pleaded guilty this past week to multiple federal charges, including conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft.
According to federal court documents, on March 2, 2020, Lugo-Cales and Collado traveled from New York to St. Louis for the sole purpose of defrauding banks in the St. Louis metro region. On March 5, they drove to a U.S. Bank location in Edwardsville. Collado waited in the car while Lugo-Cales went into the bank. Inside, Lugo-Cales presented a fake United States passport bearing his photograph but someone else’s name and tried to cash a counterfeit check in the amount of $3,650 made payable to that other person. The bank teller recognized the check was counterfeit, refused to conduct the transaction and called the police.
Lugo-Cales left the bank and drove away with Collado, leaving the counterfeit check and false passport with his picture on it with the teller. The two men were stopped by police and taken into custody a short time later.
At the time of his arrest, Collado possessed and attempted to conceal numerous items used to perpetrate the fraud scheme, including over $20,000 cash, numerous blank counterfeit checks, a counterfeit Oregon driver’s license, and a false United States passport card.
Sentencing hearings for the two men will be held on April 27 at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at the federal courthouse in Benton. Lugo-Cales and Collado face up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1,000,000 on each of their fraud charges. Their aggravated identity theft charges carry a mandatory sentence of two years of imprisonment, which must run consecutively to any other sentence imposed.
The investigation was conducted by the Edwardsville Police Department and United States Secret Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Luke J. Weissler.