Man with a history of stealing checks faces new round of charges for mail theft

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - A Kent County man with a history of stealing mail to support a cocaine addiction is facing multiple federal charges for pilfering outgoing mail in search of checks, which he then doctored and cashed at Grand Rapids banks.

Gregory Warren Wade is accused of stealing checks, some written for utility bills, on several occasions. He targeted mail boxes with the red flag in the upright position, indicating there was outgoing mail, according to federal court documents.

Wade, 43, was indicted this week on multiple counts of possession of stolen mail and bank fraud.

It’s not his first time.  Wade was convicted in two earlier cases and sent to federal prison.

Authorities say he used chemicals to remove the original ink, then altered and cashed the checks at the victim’s bank for larger amounts.

The first case, in 2002, resulted in a three-year term. Federal investigators at the time said more than 25 people were victimized.

He was on probation when he was arrested in 2006 for mail thefts in Kentwood. He was sentenced to 2½ years in that case.  He’s been in and out of prison since then for various violations, including use of cocaine.

An earlier sentencing memorandum indicated that Wade was a cocaine user and stole mail to support his addiction.

Wade was released from federal custody in December, 2015. Just 16 months after his release, he was stealing mail in Walker, federal court documents show.

Walker police in early May received a complaint of mail theft and bank fraud. Other cases surfaced. In one case, a $173.72 check made out to a utility company was stolen from a mailbox and altered. The amount was changed to $873.72 with Wade listed as the payee, court records show. It was cashed at a Huntington Bank branch in downtown Grand Rapids.

Federal investigators obtained bank surveillance video showing a man, later identified as Wade, with the check.

A criminal complaint was filed last month, resulting in Wade’s indictment this week. Wade has an appearance set for June 21 in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids.

The most serious offense, bank fraud, is punishable by up to 30 years in prison. Possession of stolen mail is a five-year offense.

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