United States District Court, D. Rhode Island
J. McCONNELL, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Saritelli pled guilty to one count of bank fraud, in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1344(2), and is awaiting
sentencing. See ECF No. 15. The issue currently before the
Court is the estimation of losses that resulted from Ms.
Saritelli's fraud to determine her offense
level. The Court held a sentencing hearing on
October 2, 2019, during which it was presented with
documentary evidence and the testimony of Special Agent Colin
Woods of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
("FBI"), which the Court found credible.
Considering all the evidence, the Court determines that the
estimation of losses is greater than $250, 000 but less than
$550, 000. Ms. Saritelli's base offense level is thus
increased by twelve (12) points for specific offense
characteristics. See USSG § 2Bl. 1(b)(1)(G).
April 2008 until October 2017, Ms. Saritelli served as the
office manager and bookkeeper of Stamas Auto and Truck
Center, LLC ("Stamas Auto"), a used car dealership
owned and operated by Leon Stamas and his son Lee Stamas
(together, the "Owners"). ECF No. 21 at 4. In this
role, Ms. Saritelli managed the finances of Stamas Auto by
paying bills, managing its bank accounts, and maintaining
accounting ledgers. Id.
September 2017, after checks were written with insufficient
funds, Citizens Bank froze Stamas Auto's bank accounts.
Id. Alerted by the frozen bank accounts, the Owners
reviewed Stamas Auto's financial records and suspected a
significant No. of checks had been forged and/or fraudulently
negotiated. Id. The suspicious checks had largely
been negotiated by Ms. Saritelli, Joe Latham (Ms.
Saritelli's significant other), and a Stamas Auto
salesman. Id. After being informed of the frozen
bank accounts, Ms. Saritelli left work at Stamas Auto and did
not return. Id.
was notified of the possible fraud and conducted a financial
analysis of bank accounts associated with Stamas Auto and Ms.
Saritelli from January 2014 to February 2018. Id.
After concluding its analysis, the FBI determined that Ms.
Saritelli fraudulently obtained funds from Stamas Auto by (1)
depositing checks meant for Stamas Auto into her personal
accounts, (2) making Stamas Auto checks payable to Mr.
Latham, (3) altering "petty cash" checks, and (4)
depositing cash stolen from Stamas Auto into her personal
accounts. Id. at 4-5. Because financial records for
large periods of time were missing, the FBI was unable to
identify the precise amount of the loss but estimate it to be
well over $400, 000. Id. at 7.
Fra udulently Deposited into Ms. Saritelli's Bank
analysis, the FBI determined that Ms. Saritelli fraudulently
obtained funds from Stamas Auto by issuing and depositing
nineteen noivpayroll related checks into her personal bank
accounts in an amount totaling $10, 167.24. Id. at
5. These checks were not authorized by either of the Owners.
Id. At the sentencing hearing, Ms. Saritelli
conceded that the loss of this $10, 167.24 is attributed to
her fraud. ECF No. 28 at 125.
Fraudulently Made Payable to Mr. Latham
Saritelli also fraudulently obtained funds from Stamas Auto
by preparing eleven checks to be payable to Mr. Latham from
Stamas Auto in an amount totaling $9, 069.17. ECF No. 21 at
5. The checks were ostensibly in payment for work Mr. Latham
had done for Stamas Auto or for parts he sold to them.
Id. The Owners disputed that Mr. Latham was ever
owed any money from Stamas Auto and claimed that the checks
were instead prepared and forged without either of their
knowledge. Id. Ms. Saritelli does not challenge that
the loss of this $9, 069.17 is attributed to her fraud. ECF
No. 28 at 125.
"Petty Cash" Checks Written by Ms. Saritelli
also concluded that Ms. Saritelli fraudulently obtained funds
from Stamas Auto by altering "petty cash" checks to
be for a higher amount and then keeping the excess cash for
herself. ECF No. 21 at 5. When interviewed by the FBI, the
Owners estimated that they would use $300 a week in
"petty cash" to provide change to customers or to
purchase items for the dealership such as groceries, cleaning
supplies, and gas for the vehicles. Id. The standard
operating procedure was for Ms. Saritelli to write a check to
cash and request one of the Owners to authorize and sign the
check. ECF No. 28 at 17" 18. Ms. Saritelli would then
either personally negotiate the check or have another Stamas
Auto employee negotiate the check and return the funds to
her. Id. Once negotiated, that money was supposed to
be added to the "petty cash" fund. Id.
investigation, the FBI discovered over 440 checks that were
made payable to "petty cash" totaling approximately
$150, 000. ECF No. 21 at 5. Using $300 a week as an estimate,
the FBI determined that $91, 430 in excess "petty
cash" was withdrawn during the time period analyzed. ECF
No. 28 at 31. The Owners were able to locate copies of
"petty cash" checks that they signed after being
presented with them by Ms. Saritelli. ECF No. 21 at 6. The
amounts on these checks were lower than the amounts of the
checks that were ultimately cashed. Id. While the
"petty cash" checks were negotiated by Ms.
Saritelli and other members of the Stamas Auto staff, the
other staff members who negotiated these checks claimed to
have always delivered the full amount of cash to Ms.
Saritelli. ECF No. 28 at 115. The "petty cash"
checks suspected of being fraudulent were not accounted for
on the financial ledgers maintained by Ms. Saritelli or were
accounted for with false explanations. ECF No. 21 at 6.
Saritelli argues that the $91, 430 in excess "petty
cash" withdrawn during the time period analyzed should
not be fully attributed to her fraud. ECF No. 28 at 125-26.
It is her contention that this amount is only deemed
excessive based on the Owner's estimation that they would
not use more than $300 a week in "petty cash".
Id. She further asserts that, because she was not
the only one to negotiate these "petty cash"
checks, excess amounts could have been stolen by the other
staff members who negotiated the ...