Romanian Men Sentenced for Interstate Theft Scam That Included Casper
Two Romanian men were sentenced in federal court last week for interstate transportation of stolen property after being caught in a fraudulent-return scam of diamond jewelry and a quick-change scheme across three states and in Casper..
U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Freudenthal sentenced Ionel Serban to two years imprisonment to be followed by three years of supervised release.
Nicolae Ursu was sentenced to one year one month imprisonment to be followed by two years of supervised release.
Serban was ordered to pay a $200 special assessment and $124,331.18 in restitution.
Ursu was ordered to pay a $200 special assessment and $29,082.18 in restitution.
Both men are subject to deportation after their release from custody.
The case started in May.
Serban and Ursu were arrested at a Sam’s Club in Fort Collins on May 18 after trying to return a diamond ring for cash they bought at Sam’s Club in Cheyenne earlier that day, according to the criminal complaint filed by an FBI agent.
The store manager called police about a theft in progress.
Police detained Ursu. Serban ran and officers caught him.
Serban identified himself as Andre Velcu and had a Romanian passport and an international driver's license in that name.
But a fingerprint scan showed he was Serban who belonged to the Romanian Rostas criminal organization, according to the criminal complaint.
Police found a third man, Serban's son, in a nearby sport utility vehicle. The son was not charged. A search of the SUV "yielded significant results," but the criminal complaint did not say what was found.
In the Cheyenne incident, the FBI agent wrote Serban and Ursu went to the jewelry kiosk at the Sam's Club and wanted a cash return of a $6,300 necklace they bought at the Sam's Club in Casper on May 17.
The men also said they were interested in buying a $7,000 ring, according to the criminal complaint.
Serban verbally accosted the employee and demanded the cash be counted on a counter in a certain way, stacking the bills in an overlapping fashion.
The employee began entering information into the cash register. Serban "grabbed the stack, and in one motion, 'palmed' a portion of the stack and handed the other portion of cash while she was looking at the register screen," according to the complaint.
That was probably when he took $5,000 and the $7,000 ring.
Thee cashier was left with $2,000.
On May 17, Casper police responded to a report of a similar exchange at the Sam’s Club in Casper, where a cashier reported $4,000 was missing as Serban and Ursu exchanged a necklace they bought in Billings.
Besides the charge in Wyoming federal court, Serban had outstanding warrants from Tennessee and Florida, and local court cases in Cheyenne and Fort Collins, according to the criminal complaint.
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