Maryland Man Pleads Guilty To Stealing Church Donations

GREENBELT, Md. (AP) — A Baltimore man has pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a scheme to steal donation checks mailed to religious institutions, according to federal prosecutors.

Mateus Vaduva, 29, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, according to a news release on Friday from the U.S. Attorney's Office for Maryland.

According to his guilty plea, from June 2018 to January 2021, Vaduva and his co-conspirators plotted to steal checks from the mail intended for religious institutions and deposit the money into fake bank accounts. Prosecutors said the conspirators drove to roadside mailboxes at churches and religious institutions and removed the mail, specifically targeting donation checks.

The suspects deposited at least 3,067 stolen checks from Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia and elsewhere totaling more than $1.3 million, according to the news release.

Vaduva faces up to of 30 years in prison when he is sentenced in February 2022.