CEDAR RAPIDS — A Romanian man pleaded Tuesday in federal court to using numerous counterfeit magnetic strip cards to take money from ATMs in the Cedar Rapids area in February.
Romica Martuica, 21, pleaded guilty — through a French interpreter — in U.S. District Court to illegal transactions with an access device and aggravated identity theft. He was originally charged with 10 related counts.
A plea agreement shows Martuica and David Iancu, also charged in the case, went to various bank ATMs on Feb. 16, inserting about 52 magnetic strip cards, in an attempt to withdraw about $25,195. They took about $8,685 because some of the cards didn’t work.
Iancu is awaiting trial, which has not been set.
Martuica made about 24 withdrawals and about 47 attempted withdrawals with magnetic cards between 5:09 and 6:24 p.m. that day, according to the plea. The magnetic cards contained the account numbers of actual accounts.
The plea agreement details three withdrawals to show the aggravated identity theft charges.
Each of the withdrawals — $200, $400, $400 and $402.50 — was from different victims.
When police stopped the two men, Martuica gave officers a Romanian identification card with the name “Marco Gorgescu,” according to the plea.
He consented to the search of his Mercedes, and officers recovered about 54 ATM receipts, four credit cards and six gift cards. They also found a fake Texas identification card for Martuica’s sister, Roxana Martuica, 17 at the time, who was with her brother and participated in hiding evidence from law enforcement.
Roxana Martuica hid a bag from her brother’s car in a police vehicle after they were arrested, according to a video recording. Officers found it later, and it contained $13,200 in cash, five withdrawal receipts and 92 magnetic strip cards.
Roxana Martuica was charged in Linn County District Court, but charges were dismissed in September because she was being deported to Romania.
After obtaining a search warrant, authorities also found $63 in cash, six more withdrawal receipts and a UPS receipt with tracking number, the plea shows.
A search warrant was obtained for the UPS package, which contained materials used to skim credit card information, including circuit boards, batteries, cameras and memory cards.
Martuica faces up to 15 years in prison for taking the money with the illegal access devices and a mandatory two years for identity theft. The mandatory two years must run consecutively to the other sentence, according to court documents.
He also must forfeit the seized $13,200 and any other proceeds from the crime and make at least $8,685 in restitution to the banks and credit unions or the account holders.
He could face up to $250,000 fines for each charge.
Sentencing will be set after a presentencing report is completed.
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