Mario D. Smith, 29, pleaded guilty to bank fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and three counts of aggravated identity theft.
Smith worked the scam with his friend, an employee of a U.S. Bank branch in St. Louis County named Jeffrey G. White, 28, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Bodenhausen said in court. White supplied Smith with information about bank customers, including Ameren. Last May, Smith used some of those customer names and account information to set up Web sites and use email addresses with names similar to Ameren’s. He then contacted the bank on June 20, pretending to be an Ameren employee and requesting $180,000.
But FBI agents, who had already been alerted by Ameren’s suspicions, moved in and arrested him instead.
Asked by U.S. District Judge Rodney Sippel at one point in Friday’s hearing if everything in his plea agreement was true, Smith sighed and said, “Yes, your honor.”
Bodenhausen, Smith and his lawyer, Steve Welby, have agreed upon a sentence of five years in prison that they will recommend to Sippel at sentencing July 26. Prosecutors will also ask for up to 18 months in a halfway house after his release from prison.
Smith was on supervised release for a gun crime at the time, and could face additional prison time. Smith, already a convicted felon, was caught with a gun in 2009 and sentenced to 21 months in prison.
In 2006, Smith was sentenced to 366 days in prison for identity theft. He had used a man’s credit cards to set up other credit accounts in that name and taunted the victim during the course of the crime.
He later got more prison time for violating his supervised release in the 2006 case.
White pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud in December but has not yet been sentenced.