A Los Angeles man linked to an international fraud ring that masqueraded as a Navy official to steal millions of dollars worth of electronics will stay behind bars.
On Tuesday in Greenbelt, Maryland, U.S. District Judge George Hazel handed down a four-year prison sentence for Saul Eady, 36, who’s been in pretrial confinement since his late 2018 arrest, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
The first of nine defendants to be sentenced, Eady also was ordered to pay $640,172.80 in restitution and will spend three more years on supervised release after he leaves federal prison.
Eady pleaded guilty in November to conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud, nearly three years after Homeland Security Investigations agents in Cape Canaveral asked their colleagues in Baltimore to investigate “Daniel Drunz,” a man believed to have been posing as a Navy contracting officer to obtain sensitive commodities from cleared defense contractors.
But there was no Daniel Drunz. He was an electronic ghost attached to a “navy-mil.us” domain name acquired from Yahoo in 2015, according to Eady’s criminal complaint.
Court records indicate that the fraud and money laundering ring linking grifters in California, Virginia, Maryland, Mexico and Nigeria used the bogus Drunz to order computers, specialized communications components, Apple iPhones, tablets and large screen televisions from a trio of companies.
The names of the victim firms are redacted in the court records, but one that’s headquartered in the state of Washington provides wireless voice and data services. Another in Virginia is a wholesale distributor of audio and video products. The third is a defense contractor in Maryland.
Without prior payment, the hoodwinked firms shipped the equipment to offices in Frederick, Maryland, and Chantilly, Virginia, that had been rented with stolen identities. From there, hundreds of televisions and other equipment was marked for shipment to California, Nigeria and Mexico.
The first of nine defendants is slated to be sentenced on Feb. 24.
On Sept. 12, 2018, a federal grand jury in Maryland returned a 16-count indictment charging Eady and his sister Saulina, plus defendants Peter Unakalu, Khalid Razaq, Janet Sturmer, Eunice Nkongho, Troy Barbour and Brandon “Shaba X” Ross with numerous federal criminal offenses occurring between October 2015 and March 2017.
Eleven months later, a grand jury added Eucharia Njoku to the list of defendants.
In a prepared statement released Wednesday morning, DOJ officials said that six of the defendants have pleaded guilty and two more are scheduled for trial next month.
Unakalu, however, remains a fugitive.
According to court filings, Ross ran the West Coast wing of the syndicate and he recruited Eady, who then brought his sister into the organization.
Using aliases, the Eady siblings obtained a least 493 stolen TVs from the Virginia company in late 2016 and early 2017, ostensibly on behalf of the Pentagon and the U.S Department of Veteran Affairs, according to the federal records.
In early 2017, however, shipping giant FedEx flagged a suspicious delivery of 188 TVs addressed to Saulina Eady. The delay prodded both siblings to visit an unidentified FedEx facility in California, with the sister demanding without luck to receive the televisions for “hospital services,” the filings state.
Before his guilty plea, Eady had been convicted eight times for burglary, transporting and selling marijuana, trespassing and driving with a suspended license. With that rap sheet, federal sentencing guidelines called for a prison term ranging from 57 to 71 months.
Federal prosecutors wanted Eady to spend five years behind bars, but his defense attorney —Dwight E. Crawley — pointed in a Feb. 10 motion to a “significant drug problem” that contributed to his remorseful client’s “troubled life” and asked for a three-year sentence.
Judge Hazel split the difference.
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