- Mark Gokavi Staff Writer
Two brothers face federal charges for stealing business checks from the U.S. mail and allegedly cashing them at Dayton-area banks, according to an affidavit filed in Dayton’s U.S. District Court.
Born Murray, 37, and Elstarheem Murray, 32, were in Montgomery County Jail before a detention hearing Tuesday in federal court.
U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Michael Merz ruled that Born Murray will be detained before trial, but Elstarheem Murray will be released on his own recognizance. Prosecutors argued for both to be detained. Elstarheem Murray will be required to stay in the Charlotte, N.C. area unless he is traveling to court hearings in Dayton.
Assistant U.S. attorney Dwight Keller said, “this is an unusual case” because the co-defendants are brothers and have intimate knowledge of each other’s information.
According to the affidavit, Born Murray admitted to stealing checks out of the mail at a commercial industrial park in Grand Rapids, Mich. and cashing them in Dayton banks.
The Murray brothers are accused of stealing U.S. mail, a crime punishable by up to five years in federal prison and up to a $250,000 fine. They have a preliminary hearing scheduled for Dec. 15.
The affidavit said a traffic stop initiated by the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and Ohio State Highway Patrol on Nov. 29 in Dayton was conducted on the Murrays’ vehicle. Born was taken out of the rented car and placed in the back of a trooper’s cruiser while Elstarheem fled a few feet but was apprehended.
A drug dog alerted to the odor of narcotics, which initiated a search that yielded two large white envelopes containing multiple business checks from several different states in the car’s trunk.
In Tuesday’s hearing, a U.S. Secret Service agent testified that there were 150 checks worth an estimated $1.5 million. The agent also said “one white pill” was found that could be Xanax.
The Secret Service interviewed the brothers at the jail. Elstarheem Murray declined to speak with agents, but Born admitted to scratching off a business name on a check, re-printing a fake business name and cashing it at a Huntington Bank.
Federal court records from the Southern District of Mississippi show Born Murray and a co-defendant were convicted of a similar scheme. In that 2013 case, Born Murray and a female stripper cashed checks and told investigators he “drives all along the Eastern Coast of the United States stealing mail.”
In September 2013, Born Murray was sentenced to 27 months in prison, a $3,000 fine and three years’ supervised release after a plea deal. U.S. Bureau of Prisons records indicate Born Murray was released from federal prison Sept. 27, 2016.
Elstarheem Murray had a 2012 case in Warren County for forgery.