Guam – Nicola Marinelli is one step closer to returning to his homeland Italy, after being in the custody of the Department of Corrections for nearly five months on charges related to the use of credit card skimming devices. Today, he made a deal with the government to plead guilty to the fraudulent use of a credit card device as a third degree felony.
“The prosecutors made a wise move it was a good agreement, my client is happy. He’s sorry to the people of Guam for all the trouble he caused and as you saw in court he said he does not want to commit these crimes anymore and was remorseful,” stated his attorney Rocky Kingeree.
Marinelli was looking at three charges against him, the first, use of a credit card scamming device to access, read, memorize and temporarily or permanently store information coded on the magnetic strip or stripes of a credit card without the permission of the user in an attempt to defraud the user or merchant. Secondly that he did so knowingly and third that he conspired to use a scamming device as a third degree felony.
The deal struck with the government dismissed the second and third charges leaving only the first charge of use of a credit card scamming device.
For this guilty plea he was sentenced to two year incarceration with credit for time served and a suspension of the remaining sentence. As part of the plea Marinelli will be on supervised probation for two years he must pay a $100 court fine and complete 50 hours of community service which can be converted to a monetary fine.
As far as the court is concerned Marinelli is now a free man.
“He would like to satisfy all his obligations to the court and go back to Italy. But most likely I believe with the polices of immigration and enforcement that he will not be allowed to stay either for a a very long time if he is not held. So he may not get out of jail today he may be held by ICE, we are not for sure though,” explained Kingeree.
If an ICE detainer is placed on Marinelli he will be held under federal custody until he is deported.
“There is also option 2, if ICE would agree, if he is held to self deport himself, which would mean that he basically in most circumstances its highly expensive for the federal government to take somebody and fly them back to Italy with two officers I don’t know. But the other side is that he is required to fly and he has a bond and when he is back in Italy, the Italian government will notify that he is back there,” shared Kingeree.
Trial in the case was supposed to have begun on Monday, so why was a plea deal taken on the eve of trial?
“There was going to be a certain amount of time, we actually had a motion cut off date and the issue is its not a good case for us. My client would not admit guilt, he said that the whole entire time but we had an agreement actually a while ago but because I did not file a motion for this agreement,” explained Kingeree.
But it appears that Marinelli’s change of heart and willingness to take the government’s deal inevitably will give him what he has been asking for since his arrest – to return home to Italy. But how did Marinelli get here? Last year, Marinelli fell on hard times setting him on a path to make a deal with a man known only as Michele, allegedly tied to the Italian Mafia. The deal fly to Guam and place three credit card skimming devices on Bank of Guam automated teller machines in exchange for cash. According to court documents Marinelli arrived on Guam on August 1st.
The first ATM skimming device was discovered at the Micronesia Mall food court in June. Several weeks later, a second skimming device was found at the mall, and another at the Subway restaurant in Agat. All three skimming devices were affixed to Bank of Guam automated teller machines.
Following the first discovery the FBI released surveillance footage of the suspect, but no arrests were made. In the video released by the FBI, the man responsible for the first hacked ATM is heavier in build and taller than Marinelli. Then, in August, Bank of Guam released images obtained from an ATM camera that depicted the suspect responsible for the other two tampered ATMs, later confirmed as Marinelli.
The break in the case came by chance as a Bank of Guam manager who was working on the case decided to go for some Italian dinner at Pizza hut in Tamuning. Standing in line in front of him was none other than the man he and his team were investigating. The banker contacted the police, who arrived shortly after.
Marinelli has also only claimed responsibility for two skimming devices, though he did inform police that he arrived on Guam with three devices, discarding one in Tumon. Court documents state that police were not able to recover the third device. Meanwhile, police say that the Italian National was in possession of numerous credit cards, all confirmed by the US Secret Service as fraudulent.
Marinelli, however is not the first tourist tied to a criminal organization with the intent of scamming the local community. Three other tourist were charged and adjudicated for similar crimes in federal court. In that case 118 bogus credit cards were to be used to go on shopping sprees at luxury retail stores in Tumon. The items were then to be sent to various addresses in Macao, Hong Kong and the U.S. The three men in that case entered plea deals with the federal government and were allowed to return to their country of origin to carry out their sentences.