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Published: Tuesday, 5/12/2009

'Most Wanted' subject enters plea in Toledo federal court

BLADE STAFF

A California man who was once featured on America's Most Wanted for posing as a priest to steal belongings from hospital patients appeared in U.S. District Court in Toledo Monday, where he faced charges of another sort: stealing from the U.S. Postal Service.

Leslie Earl Raymond, 39, who said he legally changed his name to James Kennedy III, pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of theft of public property.

He admitted to buying rolls of stamps at post offices using checks with insufficient funds. He would then sell the stamps.

"I had not seen this kind of scheme before," Assistant U.S. Attorney David Bauer said after Monday's plea hearing before Judge Jack Zouhary.

The charges carry a maximum prison sentence of 10 years, but the guidelines put Raymond's recommended sentence between 2 and 2 1/2 years. He is to be sentenced Aug. 10.

According to Mr. Bauer, Raymond was in jail in Las Vegas when the criminal charges were filed against him in Ohio. He was brought to Ohio in October while serving a 24-to-60-month sentence for malicious injury to a vehicle, which involves felony damage to a vehicle.

Mr. Bauer said Raymond traveled throughout the country using the postage stamp scheme, and the nearly $14,800 owed in restitution is for the incidents nationwide. He said the charges filed in Ohio were the only criminal counts pending regarding the scheme.

Mr. Bauer said that between March 25 and April 28, 2006, Raymond used checking accounts with insufficient funds to buy almost $6,300 in stamps in Toledo, Cincinnati, and Cleveland. He opened the accounts at various banks with minimal deposits and knowingly wrote checks for far greater amounts, Mr. Bauer said.

The second count related to almost $8,500 in stamps fraudulently purchased between March 27 and May 11, 2007, from post offices in Cincinnati, Seville, Troy, Vandalia, Tipp City, and Lima, Ohio.

"Typically he would go to multiple post offices in one city on one day before he moved on," Mr. Bauer said.

The thefts were among a total of 78 transactions that Raymond made in Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana, Washington, Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, and Tennessee.

The total stolen in 2006-07 was almost $14,800, Mr. Bauer said.

The scheme was not the first for which Raymond was charged. He was featured on the national television program America's Most Wanted last year after he was suspected in several thefts from hospital patients while masquerading as a priest.

The victims discovered their belongings missing only after the thief had used their credit cards to purchase several hundred dollars of items.

Raymond was wanted on charges of forged credit cards, credit card abuse, intent to defraud, burglary, forgery, and fraudulent use of a credit card. The warrants were out of several cities in California as well as Texas, South Dakota, and Iowa.

Raymond was arrested after the show was broadcast in April, 2008, and still faces charges.

- Erica Blake



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