- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 23, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) - A grifter behind a counterfeit check scheme in New York City killed one of his co-conspirators and dumped her body in Maryland after learning she was cooperating with investigators, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

Naquan Reyes was arrested Wednesday on murder, bank fraud and other charges. He was ordered held without bail at an initial court appearance in federal court in Brooklyn. There was no immediate response to a phone message left with his attorney.

Reyes, 29, was the target of a bank fraud investigation that found he was counterfeiting checks, then recruiting people to deposit them in bank accounts and make cash withdrawals before the fraud could be discovered, prosecutors said in court papers. One of his recruits, Nicole Thompson, was arrested in 2010 and agreed to cooperate.

Thompson, 24, had written a statement implicating Reyes when she started receiving threatening texts from him, the papers say. A short time later, she disappeared. Her body later turned up in a dumpster in Landover, Md.

The victim had been wrapped in garbage bags secured with duct tape. An autopsy found she died from asphyxiation.

A break in the case came in February, when investigators recorded Reyes talking about the killing in a conversation with a confidential source that was recorded in a bugged hotel room, prosecutors said.

“Why? Over a deposit?” the source asked, according to a government transcript.

“What was I supposed to do?” Reyes responded, the transcript said.

Asked why he didn’t recruit someone else to commit the killing, Reyes told the source that would have been “too sloppy.”

He added: “I just did it myself. I just felt it was personal. … It was either me or her.”

Prosecutors say cellphone records and transmissions show that the last call on Thompson’s phone was to one being used by Reyes. The phone evidence also shows that on the day of the last call, Reyes left Brooklyn and later traveled with an associate to Maryland, where a radio tower across the street from the dumpster picked up a signal from the associate’s phone.

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