Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Duo Sentenced for ATM Skimming

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Duo Sentenced for ATM Skimming

Article excerpt

Two Romanian citizens, who confessed to being part of a ring that installed ATM-card readers and pinhole cameras to steal account data and cash from bank customers across the tri-state area, were each sentenced Thursday to nearly five years in federal prison.

In separate hearings in Newark, U.S. District Judge William J. Martini imposed 57-month prison terms on Dezso Gyapias, 29, and Ioan Leusca, 30, who authorities say were responsible for the theft of more than $985,000 using counterfeit ATM cards produced from the stolen account information of hundreds of victims.

Dressed in yellow prison jumpsuits, their wrists and ankles shackled, Gyapias and Leusca spoke through a Romanian interpreter as they apologized for their crimes.

"I'm very sorry for what I committed. It was a mistake," said Leusca.

Gyapias also expressed remorse and promised "never again" to break the law.

Lawyers for the two men said they were childhood friends who grew up in poverty and left Romania together with designs to make a better life. Instead, they ended up playing the role of "low-level foot soldier" in a sophisticated ATM-card skimming conspiracy, said Leusca's lawyer, Frank Arleo.

Alleged ringleader indicted

Authorities have said the two were members of one of the largest skimming operations ever uncovered by law enforcement.

Earlier this week, the alleged ringleader, Marius Vintila, 31, who was captured in Sweden in September, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Newark. He is accused of directing at least a dozen men, mostly Romanians, in a scheme that siphoned $5 million from thousands of bank customers in Bergen and Passaic counties and elsewhere in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Florida.

Gyapias and Leusca, both residents of Queens who were in this country illegally and will be deported when they complete their sentences, have been jailed since they were arrested Jan. …

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