Paul Essel, 26, of Laurel, pleaded guilty Jan. 14 to conspiring to commit bank fraud, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft in connection with two bank fraud schemes, according to a statement from the office of U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and others.
According to his plea, from June 14, 2010 to March 11, 2013, Essel and Nelly Dadson opened bank accounts in their own names and in the names of shell corporations that they controlled. Essel and others used counterfeit checks that resembled convenience checks that had been stolen from mailboxes in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.
Essel deposited the checks into accounts controlled by the conspirators and then withdrew funds from the accounts. Essel also provided checks to Dadson with instructions to deposit them into accounts that she controlled, withdraw the funds and provide the funds to Essel. In exchange, Essel paid Dadson.
In addition, from June 14, 2010 to November 13, 2012, Essel and Dadson conspired to defraud Home Depot. On multiple occasions, a conspirator placed an order by phone with a Home Depot store for flooring in amounts ranging from $2,500 to $8,000, using a stolen credit card number.
Within a few days, a conspirator called to cancel the order and supplied a debit card number of a conspirator, including Essel and Dadson, requesting that the refund for the order be placed on the card. At Essel’s request, Dadson received 38 credits to her bank accounts totaling approximately $141,159.07, which she then withdrew and provided to Essel. Essel paid Dadson $600 to $800 per transaction. Essel also received at least three credits to his bank accounts totaling about $8,900, which he withdrew.
Essel faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine when he is sentenced May 13. Dadson, pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 24.