Trappe man admits to thefts linked to gambling problem, receive jail time.
NORRISTOWN » A Trappe man faces jail time and a hefty restitution bill after he admitted to defrauding an online gambling site and banks to the tune of more than $140,000 during a bad check scheme.
Saurabh Sood, 38, of the 100 block of Royer Drive, was sentenced in Montgomery County Court to six to 23 months in the county jail after he pleaded guilty to felony charges of theft by deception false impression in connection with incidents that occurred in 2016.
Common Pleas Court Judge Garrett D. Page also ordered Sood to complete three years’ probation following parole, meaning Sood will be under court supervision for about five years.
Sood also must pay a total of $140,455 in restitution in connection with the case. The judge said Sood is eligible for the work release program during his incarceration.
Investigators alleged Sood opened a checking account with a Berks County credit union in June 2016 and subsequently “started to write and pass checks against the account without making any deposits into the account to cover the amount of the checks that were written,” according to the criminal complaint. The account was closed in July 2016.
In August 2016, Sood passed 15 checks totaling more than $130,000 and made the checks out to AMWEST Entertainment, an online gambling site for horse races, and deposited the checks directly into his AMWEST account through Bank of America branches in Upper Merion, West Norriton and Philadelphia, according to the criminal complaint filed by Upper Merion Detective Jerome T. Staquet.
During a subsequent interview by detectives, Sood allegedly admitted to writing and signing each check and making the deposits knowing full well that the account that the checks were written upon had already been closed, thus deceiving the banks and AMWEST Entertainment, according to the arrest affidavit.
“Mr. Sood, who has an admitted gambling problem, then used the proceeds of this deception to wager on horse races, losing all of the money,” Staquet alleged.
In October 2016, detectives received information from Upper Pottsgrove and Lower Providence police that Sood allegedly continued to open accounts at various credit unions and in a version of a “shell game” would travel throughout Montgomery County making deposits into and withdrawals from the accounts over a period of several days in September, causing additional financial losses to the victim institutions, according to the arrest affidavit.
In court documents, detectives alleged that in February 2017, they received information from Upper Pottsgrove police that Sood attempted to pass four additional checks on a closed account from the Ukrainian Selfreliance Federal Credit Union in the amount of $29,900.
At the time charges were filed against Sood in February 2017, Staquet wrote in the criminal complaint that an arrest warrant was issued for Sood “as he shows no remorse or ability to stop his criminal enterprise in defrauding our banking institutions.”
As part of the sentence, the judge ordered Sood to comply with any recommendations that flow from court-ordered drug, alcohol and mental health evaluations.
Other charges of dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities were dismissed against Sood in exchange for his guilty plea to the theft-related charges.