Indianapolis man gets 11-plus years in federal prison for leading fraud scheme

Indianapolis man Frank “Bread” Powell has been sentenced to more than 11 years in federal prison for leading a large-scale fraud ring that bilked Kroger and other retailers out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office on Thursday said Powell, 29, was given a 134-month sentence after being indicted for wire fraud, attempted bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, and giving false statements to a financial institution.

Powell must also serve five years of supervised release following his sentence.

Federal investigators say Powell organized a ring that used fraudulent checks to purchase gift cards and merchandise from Kroger and other stores in 12 states from January 2016 until April 2018, resulting in losses exceeding $300,000.

Powell recruited and trained more than 20 “runners” to cash checks at Kroger stores nationwide, including co-conspirators Javonte Wright, Anthony Duerson, and Antionne Brewster.

Wright and Duerson were previously sentenced to 30 months and 24 months in prison, respectively. Brewster has not yet been sentenced.

Powell and his associates used more than 5,000 fraudulent checks in at least 30 different individual or business names, such as “Frank Pawell” and “Pawell Child Care LLC.”

After processing, the checks were returned to Kroger as “account closed, forged, non-sufficient funds or unable to locate account.”

Investigators say Powell also attempted to defraud a local bank and car dealership when he tried to obtain financing for the purchase a Cadillac Escalade using the identity of another person without the person’s knowledge.

Powell used the name, address and social security number of his victim in the March 2018 scheme, along with a fake Illinois driver’s license that contained the victim’s information but Powell’s photograph, according to investigators.

Investigators say Powell’s ruse was discovered during the loan-application process, and he tried to bribe one of the dealership’s employees with a sofa to not report him.

Powell faced up to 30 years in prison on the bank-related charges and up to 20 years for each of the wire fraud charges.

This case was investigated by the FBI and law enforcement personnel from Indianapolis, Hamilton County, Fishers, Carmel and Johnson County, and Kroger’s Organized Retail Crime Investigators, Central Division.

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