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Brooklyn man arrested, charged with stealing $12,000 in stimulus checks from mail

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Posted at 8:58 AM, May 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-01 09:59:03-04

NEW YORK — A Brooklyn man has been arrested after officers say he was caught stealing mail, including credit cards and stimulus checks from the U.S. Treasury Department, according to US Attorney Richard P. Donoghue's office.

Feng Chen was arrested in Brooklyn Tuesday and appeared via videoconference before a judge Wednesday afternoon. In the early morning hours Tuesday, NYPD officers saw Chen looking inside the collection bin at a closed medical office and then walking to a nearby residence and examining mail left at the door. He then walked into the gated area of a second residence and left carrying what appeared to be mail.

When he saw the police, Chen tossed the mail on the sidewalk. When officers got out of their vehicle, they saw a bulge in Chen's jacket pocket.

Officers searched Chen's pockets and found checks, stimulus payments totaling up to $12,000, credit cards, opened envelops and letters.

"For many families, these stimulus checks are a lifeline in these difficult times and anyone who tries to cut that lifeline will face the full weight of the law," Donoghue said. "This Office will vigorously prosecute all those who seek to take advantage of the public health crisis."

"The NYPD recognizes how the COVID-19 pandemic presents an opportunity for a variety of malicious, criminal scams," NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said. "In this case, I applaud our alert detectives and federal partners for interrupting an alleged scheme to victimize New Yorkers by stealing important mail and stimulus money meant to aid them during this unprecedented crisis."

If convicted, Chen faces a maximum of five years in prison.

This story was originally published by Stephen M. Lepore on WPIX in New York.