RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A North Carolina man was sentenced Friday to 30 months in prison for his role in a scheme to steal, alter, and cash business checks from mailboxes in the Richmond area.

According to a release, Sammy Marquelle Bethea, 25, was convicted of conspiracy to commit mail and bank fraud in October 2020.

Government evidence at the trial revealed that in 2018, Bethea and his cousin, Lareese Mallety, 27, traveled repeatedly from their North Carolina homes to the Richmond area to steal business checks from mailboxes in and around industrial parks. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA), the cousins would manually change the checks using razorblades and a typewriter, after which they would add the name of a recruited homeless or indigent person who would walk the check into a local Virginia bank to obtain cash.

In 2018, members of the conspiracy reportedly cashed more than $30,000 worth of stolen and counterfeit checks.

According to a release, law enforcement uncovered the scheme in October 2018, when Bethea and Mallety’s car was stopped by the Virginia State Police (VSP) while they were on their way to Richmond. Officers found that Bethea and Mallety were in possession of a pry bar, typewriter, and razorblades, as well as stolen packages and nearly 50 checks stolen from more than 40 businesses worth over $120,000.

Bethea was sentenced by Senior U.S. District Judge Robert E. Payne.