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St. Croix Teen Pleads Guilty to Computer Theft of Nearly $400,000 from Government

July 10, 2007 — A St. Croix teenager has pleaded guilty to using a computer to illegally transfer nearly $400,000 from V.I. government bank accounts to his own, officials said Tuesday.
Hube Luco, a 19-year-old Haitian national living in Williams Delight, admitted to electronically raiding accounts for the V.I. departments of Health and Finance and funneling $382,000 to his own online banking account with e*Trade, according to a press release from U.S. Attorney Anthony Jenkins.
Luco pleaded guilty to bank fraud and wire fraud on June 25. The crimes occurred between May and August 2006.
Jenkins did not say how Luco was able to access the V.I. government bank accounts. But he said Luco used the money to buy his mother — Manuela Ventura, who is also a Haitian national living in St. Croix — a new $35,000 2006 Cadillac STS.
Luco managed to spend more than $150,000 of money siphoned off government accounts during a five-week period in the summer of 2006.
Under the plea agreement, Luco has to give back the money and the purchases, including the car. It was not immediately clear what other punishments might be leveled against the teen, because messages left for the U.S. Attorney General’s office were not returned.
Jenkins did not say whether charges were dropped against Ventura, who was indicted with Luco in January on 26 counts of fraud. Accomplice Roberto Felix Jr., also of St. Croix, pleaded guilty to attempted bank fraud. Felix received some of the stolen money to a First Bank account he had opened with falsified records that made the funds appear to come from a legitimate job, Jenkins said.
Felix, who claimed to be paid between $150,001 and $200,000 annually, conned First Bank into depositing $34,400 in counterfeit checks, Jenkins said. The exact punishment for the men was not clear, but they could be sentenced to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
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