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Bank Fraud Conspirator Sentenced to 39 Months in Prison

Raffie Tabbal, 40, of Montgomery Village, has been ordered to pay $42,500 in restitution for scheme that funneled forged and counterfeit checks through his bogus limousine company.

A federal judge has sentenced the fifth of seven conspirators in a 2010 bank-fraud scheme in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties that netted the conspirators hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Raffie Tabbal, 40, of Montgomery Village, was sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt to 39 months in prison, five years of probation and ordered to pay restitution of $42,500. He had pleaded guilty in May to one count each of aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to commit bank fraud starting in December 2009. The scheme involved six Maryland men and one from Washington, DC.

All seven have pleaded guilty; two more—including the purported ringleader—await sentencing.

The conspirators used fraudulent Maryland driver’s licenses to create two bogus companies and open bank accounts for them, then counterfeited or altered checks to deposit into those accounts.

Tabbal obtained a Maryland driver’s license with his photo on it, but someone else’s name and date of birth. Tabbal used that license to incorporate “DC Limos Inc,” then open bank accounts in the bogus company’s name.

Federal prosecutors say the ringleader was Nathan A. Silla, 39, of Glenn Dale, MD. Silla and others washed the names off of personal and corporate checks, and rewrote the checks to pay a conspirator or one of the fake names they were using. They would then deposit the altered checks into accounts they controlled, including the DC Limos accounts owned by Tabbal. 

They also printed counterfeit checks, then made those checks payable to conspirators or companies controlled by conspirators, and deposited the counterfeit checks into accounts they controlled at banks in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. At least three counterfeit checks were deposited into the DC Limos accounts, totaling more than $107,000. 

Tabbal signed at least eight fraudulent checks out of the DC Limos account. Federal prosecutors peg the total loss resulting from Tabbal’s actions at between $70,000 and $120,000. 

Silla and Olumide Babafemi Ogunmakinwa, 45, of Brandywine, MD, await sentencing.

The steepest penalty so far was meted out to Caleb K. Otsibah, 38, of Lanham, MD. He was sentenced to 66 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution of more than $210,000. 

Stephen L. Wise, 23, of Washington DC, was sentenced to 37 months and $58,975 restitution.

Two brothers—Kodjo Kakra Duncan, 39, of Capitol Heights, MD, and Kodjo Panyin Duncan, 39, of Lanham, MD—were sentenced to 48 months and 45 months and were ordered to pay restitution of $175,600 and $114,900, respectively.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christen A. Sproule prosecuted the case. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the United States Secret Service helped with the investigation.

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