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Man sentenced for local bank fraud

MADISON -- Julio Benitez Zamorano, 24, a Mexican citizen, was sentenced Oct. 28 in federal court to eight months in prison for bank fraud relating to a case at First National Bank of River Falls. Zamorano pled guilty to the charge last August.

On March 16, 2009, Zamorano and other individuals, entered First National Bank, approached tellers and presented stolen checks drawn on the account of St. Croix Custom Fabrication, Inc.

The checks cashed were made payable to "Ismael Vazquez" and "Rebeca Silva." Zamorano, and another suspect, Virginia Castillo, provided false identification for those names.

Before cashing the checks, the First National bank teller required Castillo and Zamorano to place their fingerprints on the checks.

Both were later arrested in Albert Lea, Minn., on March 23, after they tried to cash more stolen checks at a bank there. Zamorano and Castillo were fingerprinted after their arrests and these matched the fingerprints taken while at First National Bank of River Falls.

Castillo recently got a four-month sentence. U.S. Attorney Stephen Sinnott said the sentence reflected Castillo's extensive cooperation during the federal investigation.

Three other individuals - Lesuin Joel Garcia, Oscar Leonel Rodriguez and Jose Herman Jiminez Betancourt -- were charged in a separate indictment. Their trial is set for Feb. 22, 2010.

The charges against Zamorano were the result of an investigation conducted by River Falls police, along with New Richmond and Chippewa Police, St. Croix County Sheriff's Department, Albert Lea Police and the FBI.