SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A Joplin man and woman have been indicted by a federal grand jury for their roles in a conspiracy to steal mail from Joplin residents and in a separate conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud.
Aaron M. Blake, 27, and Emily Anna-Lee Sturgis, 30, were charged in a nine-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Springfield, Missouri on Aug. 29.
The federal indictment alleges that Blake and Sturgis participated in a conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud and, in a separate count, a mail theft conspiracy, from December 2022 to Jan. 26, 2023.
According to the indictment, Blake and Sturgis stole checks, credit cards, debit cards, cash, and documents that contained personal identification information from the mailboxes of their victims in Joplin. The indictment alleges they stole Pandora jewelry from one victim’s mailbox, and a Christmas card that contained a $500 check from another victim’s mailbox.
The indictment also alleges they stole a W-2 form from a mailbox and used it to fraudulently obtain a credit card; when the credit card was mailed to the victim’s address, they allegedly stole it from the mailbox as well. In another instance, the indictment says, they stole a credit card from a victim’s mailbox and used it to make purchases.
Blake and Sturgis allegedly used the stolen credit cards to purchase items from area businesses. They allegedly used the stolen personal identification information of their victims (such as bank account numbers, bank routing numbers, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers) to open other credit and bank accounts.
Blake and Sturgis rented a motel room in Carthage, Missouri, the indictment says, where they kept the stolen mail.
In addition to the two conspiracy charges, Blake and Sturgis are charged together in three counts of bank fraud and three counts of possessing stolen mail. Blake is also charged with one count of aggravated identity theft.
Deputies with the Jasper County, Missouri Sheriff’s Department responded to a call on Jan. 26, 2023, about the occupants of a blue sedan stealing mail and parcels from residences. The deputies located Blake and Sturgis at Casey’s General Store in Carl Junction, Missouri in possession of various pieces of stolen mail, and arrested them.
The charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Casey Clark. It was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Carthage, Mo., Police Department and the Jasper County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department.