Undocumented Romanian immigrant pleads guilty to bank fraud in St. Tammany Parish
By James Varney, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

on August 28, 2015 at 9:00 AM, updated
August 28, 2015 at 1:12 PM

A Romanian man pleaded guilty Thursday (Aug. 27) to bank fraud in St. Tammany Parish, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Marinica Mirel Cotoi, 37, now faces prison and deportation, federal prosecutors said.
In March, Cotoi and another man, who was not identified, rented a hotel room in Covington, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. At that time, the U.S. Secret Service and the Louisiana Financial Crimes Task Force were already deep into an investigation into "the unauthorized collection of debit card numbers through the installation of 'skimming devices' on various ATM machines and the subsequent illegal use of fake debit cards," federal prosecutors said.

Not long after renting the Covington room, surveillance video captured Cotoi using fake debit cards to withdraw money from three local banks tied to the Navy Federal Credit Union, court papers show.
When arrested, Cotoi also admitted he had entered the United States illegally, federal prosecutors said.
Cotoi faces up to 30 years in prison, $250,000 in fines and up to three years of supervised release, in addition to deportation. U.S. District Judge Jolivette Brown set sentencing for Dec. 3.

U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite praised the cooperation of the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office in the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Edward Rivera and Carter Guice prosecuted the case.