Trappe man ad­mits to thefts linked to gam­bling prob­lem, re­ceive jail time.

The Phoenix - - FRONT PAGE - By Carl Hessler Jr. chessler@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Mont­coCourtNews on Twit­ter

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.

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