by Matt Rosenberg April 25th, 2013
A 48-year-old Seattle man whose last known address was in a Magnolia apartment building was sentenced April 5 to 22 months in jail on two felony counts of forgery after Everett police and the U.S. Secret Service teamed up to uncover his role in what the feds called “a large-scale identity theft and fraud ring” in King and Snohomish counties. He will serve the time after a separate 50-month sentence for robbery in the second degree that was handed down in late November, six weeks after the forgeries that led to the newer charges and additional sentence. The robbery case centered on a Craig’s List set-up played out at Northgate Mall.
According to charging papers in the forgery case, in October 2012 Matthew Magnano, last of the 2600 block of 21st Ave. W. in Seattle, deposited in a newly-opened personal bank account or cashed at a loan outlet counterfeit checks made out to himself. One was for $862 from a local cosmetics distribution company and two others, for $525 and $588, were from an estate sales and jewelry concern. In each instance the correct business account numbers were on the companies’ checks.
Multiple other forgeries were occurring on the accounts of the two businesses, and bank investigators noticed a pattern and got in touch with police. In the case of Magnano, the owner of one of the business confirmed the forgeries on two checks to Everett Police, who got a warrant to search a room being used by Magnano and other associates in the fraud ring in a Rodeway Inn in Shoreline. Magnano was charged in January in King County, as were others, in federal court and in Snohomish County, including alleged ringleaders Michael Suryan and Latasha Chambers.
According to a probable cause report in the Magnano case court documents – based on testimony from Seattle-based U.S. Secret Service Special Agent Bryan Molnar – the room in the Shoreline motel contained evidence of a “large counterfeit check and fake ID manufacturing scheme” including two fake IDs with Magnano’s picture, a stolen ID, plus abundant check paper stock, counterfeit checks, stolen checks and mail, more fake Washington IDs, a computer, printers, scanners, and laptop “pen tablets” to yield signatures on fake IDs.
Molnar in his statement said the items were revealed Magnano’s participation in a “large-scale identity theft and fraud ring that encompassed multiple jurisdictions in both King and Snohomish counties.” Molnar added the ring has 14 members “that have victimized approximately 100 people through the crimes of stolen mail, , identity theft, unauthorized possession of a payment instrument, access device fraud, bank fraud and forgery.”
In late March Magnano pled guilty prior to trial and on April 5 was sentenced to 22 months in jail. The October 2012 forgeries that led to the conviction were committed as another case against Magnano was unfolding in King County Superior Court, for robbery in the second degree.
He was charged in April 2012 for stealing $250 from a woman at Northgate shopping mall in Seattle in a Craig’s list set-up where he proffered for sale a supposedly new discounted mobile phone in a sealed box. He demanded and got cash upfront from the buyer, who found nothing in the box when she opened it. She and friends gave chase but could not get the money back after confronting Magnano.
He was sentenced to 50 months in jail on the robbery charge November 28. This was some six weeks after the forgeries which recently earned him another 22 months. The sentences are to be be served consecutively. According to court documents, Magnano had 14 prior felony convictions. These included the robbery charge, plus three separate convictions for assault in the third degree, others for unlawful imprisonment and theft, and five DUIs. He also had 11 adult misdemeanor convictions.
The operation in which Magnano was involved is now out of commission, law enforcement sources say. However a review of current records shows there is no shortage of new cases being filed by prosecutors in King County Superior Court on charges of forgery and identity theft.