NASHVILLE – A federal grand jury indicted Kenneth James Stopkotte, 48, of Nashville, on Wednesday and charged him with bank larceny, money laundering, access device fraud and aggravated identity theft, according to David Rivera, U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, and Todd Hudson, special agent in charge with the U.S. Secret Service.
According to the indictment, between Aug. 27, 2012, and Feb. 28, 2013, Stopkotte stole about $181,608.52 in donation checks from the mailboxes of numerous churches in the Nashville area. Stopkotte deposited the checks in accounts, which he controlled at SunTrust Bank, First Tennessee Bank, Regions Bank, the Bank of Nashville and the Navy Federal Credit Union. Additionally, Stopkotte transferred about $70.000 of the stolen funds from these various bank accounts to an account that he controlled at USAA Federal Savings Bank. Stopkotte then laundered about $48,000 of the money by nine wire transfers in varying amounts into an account titled Black Marlin Industries located at the Federal Bank of the Middle East in Nicosia, Cyprus.
Also, according to the indictment, between Dec. 15, 2011, through Jan. 19, 2012, Stopkotte used a credit card that had been issued to another person to charge approximately $13,631.45 in payments and other things of value, while using a means of identification of another person during the credit card transactions.
If convicted, Stopkotte faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of the bank larceny offenses, 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine on each of the money laundering offenses, and 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the access device charge. Additionally, Stopkotte faces a mandatory minimum sentence of two years on the aggravated identity theft charge, which must be served consecutively to the prison term received for the access device offense.
The U.S. Secret Service, Murfreesboro police, Franklin police, Brentwood police and Madeira, Ohio police investigated the case. Assistant U.S. attorney Sandra G. Moses will serve as prosecutor.
Charges brought by an indictment are merely accusations and are not evidence of guilt. The defendant has the right to a trial, at which, the government must bear the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.