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Split Deposit: Doing Time by Mark Anthony Given

Split deposits are a major source of teller errors and potential fraud in customer statements. -Barron's Banking Dictionary

 Believe me; you haven’t partied until you have eaten Ramien Noodle out of a Mop Bucket!

              I DID TEN YEARS in federal prison for bank fraud in the late 1980's,  after my girlfriend in New Orleans, who was a former bank teller, got me involved in a brilliant "Spilt Deposit' scheme. The government said I defrauding some seventy-five banks out of a couple million dollars with a 19 cent Bic pen, and a set of balls of steel. A “Split-Deposit” in banking terms is where individual deposits bank checks into an existing account and want some portion of the total amount back in cash.  One of the most common of bank transactions I turned into my personal ATM from one end of this country to the other.  I've written about it over and over here on this blog; this is about what happened after the party was over and the Piper had to be paid... 

Split Deposit:   Deposit where the customer presenting an endorsed check receives part of the amount being deposited in cash. Split deposits are a major source of teller errors and potential fraud in customer statements.
 -Barron's Banking Dictionary

          I GOT SENT to the crown jewel of the United States Bureau of Prisons, “BOP,” at Seagoville, Texas, in the early 90’s just outside of Dallas-Ft. Worth.  I was back on my first parole violation for smoking pot.  I had just completed three years of night school in Mobile, Alabama and obtained an AAS, or Legal Administrative Assistant Degree, sometimes called a “Paralegal,” at some fly by night Junior College on the Gulf Coast, that continued to take out loans in my name for a year and a half after I graduated, and ruined my credit then filed bankruptcy, or was closed by the feds, and maintained a full time job at Hall’s Catfish & Seafood (Best hush-puppies on the planet!), while trying to beat Urinalyses test’s from my Parole Officer.
     I WAS INDICTED for six-counts of bank fraud out of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama, in Mobile.  Each Count provided for a penalty of 5 years in federal prison.   I started studying the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure like it was the Daily Program at the track.  I already had seen they had 70 days to try me so I just chilled, and about the 63rd day my dumpster attorney came to me to tell me the government was offering me 20 years,  but I had to tell them what I did. This was a Friday evening the most depressing time in jail and I told him hell no, I'll go to trial and only get twenty-years, I didn’t kill anybody. I wouldn’t even tell him how I did it.      Monday morning, he comes back at ten o’clock in the morning and says the government is offering five years and five years probation,  but you got to tell them how I defrauded seventy-five banks out of two and a half million dollars from one end of the country to the other...
          WHAT A LAYOUT!  Howard Stern on the radio every morning, All the Housing Units in like a college campus in a big circle.  My unit Number 7 was right next to the Education Building, where the law library was which was right next to the chow hall.  Man, this joint had a funky feel to it.  Might have been around 1,000 men which is small nowadays.  But the people in there were all presumably non-violent, first timers or short times like me.  I fell into the latter category.  Slap full of rats and confidential informants who got on the bus before any of their codefendants.  That was the first place I actually saw inmates being heavily escorted with black bags over their head to hide their identity, usually enroot elsewhere.  According to Sammy “The Rat,” Gravano, there is a whole Compound of “Witness Protection,” inmates doing time in Arizona somewhere.
          WHILE IN PRISON, I decided,  if I learn something every day, I haven't lost that day; indeed, I could turn this otherwise negative situation into something positive. First I sought to conquer American literature by reading Steinbeck, Hemingway, Faulkner, Walker Percy, Fitzgerald. Then I started on Russian literature by reading Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, then Nabokov, then English literature, Somerset Maugham, Taylor Caldwell, J. R. R. Tolkien, Dickens, on and on.  Hundreds of books and classics.   I began spending hours a day with the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, tons of biographies, and working out in the hot Texas Sun.
     THEN I STARTED on the United States Supreme Court opinions.  It occurred to me as I read lower court decisions they all cited the US Supreme Court, end of story.  Written in Stone, whatever they said, was the Law of the Land. I read a death penalty slash ineffective assistance of counsel case, where they placed the lawyer on the stand, and in his testimony, he related that he had only read one or two cases in all his years in law school. I said to myself, 
“What is the one thing I have that every free person doesn’t have?"  
You know what? If I read even 10 or 20 cases I will know more about this area of law than most lawyers. 
              I knew I didn’t have time to read all two-hundred something Volumes.  I began at Lawyers Edition, Second Edition, and Volume 1. Or, 1 L.Ed. 2d.  1, which is the second series of US Supreme Court cases beginning in 1956 or 57 and I read 125 volumes of United States Supreme Court cases without stopping. After about three months I could physically feel my brain expanding as I slept (soft reassuring crackling sensations), as I read these cases and to think about things that would never occur to you. Never in a Million years!  Caveat, I only read criminal, patent, intellectual rights, slander, and libel; actually it would be easier to tell you what I didn't read: New Mexico v. Arizona (either water rights or gerrymandering (voting district disputes), and that's it.
   Took me fourteen-months. Remember those light poles in people’s living rooms in the 1960's and '70's? A stand-up pole you could compress and it would stand where ever you placed it with three or four lamps extending off it? That was a major patent dispute. Intermittent windshield wipers? Years in litigation the Supreme Court resolved.
      One of the earliest cases comes to mind Bartkus v. Illinois; this poor bastard was tried and acquitted of bank robbery in federal court and three weeks later tried and convicted in state court of the very same offense using the very same evidence.  The High Court invoked the Sovereign Entity Doctrine to separate the Double Jeopardy claim.  As you might expect there is a lot of standing around waiting in chow lines, controlled movement lines and lots of time period;   I'd photocopy the cases and every opportunity I'd pull it out and read the same case four or five times. The first self-help book I read said that successful people have no more hours in the day than I do and we are all on a level playing field and if you will spend more time on something you can get pretty good at it. The first 30 Volumes I had to look up every word I didn’t know before I could go on or I wouldn’t understand it.  If I didn’t know one word the whole paragraph wouldn’t make sense.  Then I had to read every case four or five times in the beginning!  Once I thought I understood it, I would research it or Shepardize it to see how the Courts were interpreting it to try and get a better grasp on it.
     I had a Pre Sentencing Guideline case, what was called an “Old Law” case, so the obscene amount of money didn't jack up the sentence and the penalty for federal bank fraud jumped from 5 years to 20 years the year after I plead guilty. The federal prisons were full of bank robbers, crooked lawyers and politicians, tax cheats and Medicare defrauders and the occasional bank fraud like me.  Within 3-4 years all the federal prisons exploded with small-time crack dealers doing 25-30 years without parole for a handful of $10 dollar rocks. I had a real quite but big black guy come up to me and ask me how the hell did I conspire with a bunch of people on the corner I didn’t even know?  Federal conspiracy law has been described as the "Quicksand of the prosecutor's playground.”  I explained to him that by standing around together breaking the law and presumably looking out for each other which is why they were all together and committing the overt act in furtherance of their breaking the law...that's a conspiracy. And there are two kinds of federal criminal conspiracies; one requiring an overt act and the other not.  One is to break federal law and the other is against the US itself.
      I WALKED THE TRACK for 10 months in 100-degree heat at FCI Texarkana, Texas with a 19-year-old all American looking kid from California who had a bank fraud conviction and I was dying to know what he did and how he did it.  Because by my own experience I knew that the government knew exactly what I did when I spanked their ass seaming at will, for a couple million dollars, but they didn’t know how I did it, which turned out to be the fly in the ointment when it came time to negotiate a plea agreement. That and the fact I didn't have any co-defendants to get on the "Bus" before I did:   First one on the "Bus" gets the best seat the US Attorneys were fond of saying... The girl who showed me it in New Orleans was already doing state time for her own offenses. I negotiated a Rule 20 in federal court to combine my state offenses from Big Sur, California to Manhattan, NY into one federal jurisdiction. I had tremendous leverage because although they knew exactly what I did they did not know how I did it;   where did I get the accounts?  Did I have people in the banks feeding me information?  I was either part of an interstate crime ring or I was a one-man crime wave.... and most importantly, I didn’t have any codefendants to rat me out...
     I COULD NEVER FIGURE OUT why this kid was so reluctant to tell me what he did when most people want to blab about it (my self-included). I remember riding around in my brand new luxury rental car with paper license plates laying down in the rear window, pulling out of yet another bank drive-thru with another 10K for the day, wanting to scream it out the windows it was so easy....easy but ballsy....
     I had this kid cornered in my Practices and Principles of Real Estate college course at night, and another few hours on the track in the evening weekends, and after how many pleas he finally told me a scam easier than mine! He told me he got busted at the Cashier Window at Circus-Circus in Las Vegas by the FBI kiting checks, usually the lamest crime on the books. I mean who can't open a couple a hundred dollar checking accounts and write ten thousand dollars in checks against it? You're going to get busted.   On the Felony Scale, it’s down there with snatching the Tag off your Mattress and sniffing bicycle seats at the local elementary school;  you get no respect...
     No, this kid did something a little slicker. He told me he filled out his own phony IRS W2's, appointing himself President and CEO of some existing small business, and pay himself 300k a year in bonuses and salaries, made all the proper deductions and calculations and then walked into a federally insured bank and obtained loans based upon this false information. He said they would give him a book of blank checks and a 25k line of credit, where he would head straight to the Cashiers’ Window, where the FBI just waited for him once the seen his pattern. He only had five years like me (I had five years and five years probation, which I violated after a year and a half and started a fresh five). The FBI asked him where he came up with that scheme he said he saw it on the "Rockford Files."
Police Capt. Doug Chapman: You expect us to believe that? 
Jim Rockford: Of course not, it's the truth. 
     Before being released via Mandatory Release at Two Thirds or Forty Months, I was at a real Federal Prison at FCI Texarkana, where I met some real Mobsters.  Because I was from NY (My family was all from NY, I, The Seventh Son, was born and practically raised in the South, but I went back and forth), and had a NY Register Number 01863-055,  I was rubbing shoulders with "Made Men". The last three digits tell everybody where you are either from or got busted at. 053, 054 and 056, is NY.  004 were Miami, 034 New Orleans, and so on... You won't believe the stories I can tell you. Having lived in New Orleans, I got to eat lunch several times a week with Carlos Marcello, I'm not kidding you (another friend from New Orleans was tight with him and got me in the loop). And if that isn’t enough, besides being across from the Don himself, on the right of me was Don Yarborough a Texas Supreme Court Justice,  whose case is studied in law schools on public corruption and voter name recognition.
     DON CARLOS MARCELLO was old as dirt!About 4'9", a little bit of White hair and always a big smile like he didn’t know or give a fuck he was in prison and would act like he couldn’t hear if he didn’t want to talk to you. One day we were talking about Central America, my buddy says, 
"Carlos, you been to Guatemala haven't you?”  
A slight smile came across his face as he told us about the FBI luring him and his lawyer to the federal building in New Orleans, and the FBI escorted him straight to the airport and put him on a plane and Deported him to Guatemala, and the hassle it was getting back.
     Turns out he was born in Tunisia, Northern Africa, across from Italy, and came to the US at 2-3 years old, so he wasn’t an American citizen.  He was 5 years into a federal sentence for conspiring with the Governor of Louisiana, Buddy Roemer, to fix hospital bids for the State.   They had him on FBI tape at the Hotel Monteleone in the French Quarter, telling the informant, "I got him right here," while patting his right front pocket, talking about the Governor of Louisiana.
      I remember reading the new book "Kingfish" while I was in there and the first page said something about Texarkana being surrounded by 30' foot walls and gun towers. There was none of that. A couple of fences with towers and 24-hour patrol. He told me the book was bull and I believed him. They had two of the Pizza Connection guys in there two I knew.
     WHEN I LEFT, the night before, over two dozen men gathered in the center of the Compound in the Gazebo (I am not making this up), and threw me a traditional "Going Home Party," for me. Believe me; you haven’t partied until you have eaten Ramen Noodle out of a Mop Bucket!


 2668 Words
Copyright 2017 by Mark Anthony Given All Rights Reserved 28 USC 1746, Invoking 90 Stat. 2541 and Article 2(4) of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works
10:29 AM 10/11/2017

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