Magistrate Judge Jacob P. Hart and lawyers on both sides of the case agreed in a preliminary hearing Tuesday that there was enough probable cause to continue with the prosecution of Preshal Iyar.
The 19-year-old freshman was arrested earlier this month on three counts of mail fraud.
Iyar was not identified as the caller in any of the incidents, but she did sign for several packages in question. U.S. Postal Inspectors had compiled enough evidence in early February to prove she may have violated certain federal codes.
Even though Iyar is the only person currently being tried for the offenses, court documents implicate an unidentified male as the caller in at least one of the incidents.
After the hearing, Iyar’s lawyer, Mark D. Douple, refused to comment on the case, stating only that there was an “ongoing investigation.”
He said he was uncertain as to what penalties Iyar could be facing if found responsible or partially responsible.
The freshman has been referred to the University Disciplinary Committee, but is not currently facing expulsion since she has not been charged or convicted, Temple officials said.
Iyar, who signed her own $10,000 bond, could not comment on the situation under the advice of her legal counsel.
In the original complaint filed by United States Postal Service Inspectors, a Lexington, Ky., woman received a phone call from an unknown man telling her that she had won a $100,000 prize from the Make a Wish Foundation.
The caller then told her to send 20 percent of the prize money as a fee to a Philadelphia address. The address was later discovered to be the Temple dormitory room where Iyar has been living since the fall semester.
According to the affidavit, the caller wanted the woman to “max out her credit cards and/or borrow the money in order to pay the fee necessary for her to collect the prize money.” The caller then instructed her not to “tell anyone about the call.”
The woman instead notified investigators at the Pennsylvania Bureau of Charitable Organizations, who tipped off Temple detectives in late November.
The PBCO oversees the administration of laws regarding charities and supervises more than 6,000 organizations in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Officials at the Bureau could not be reached by press time.
The second incident occurred in late December when a man and woman, both 89 years old, were contacted by someone claiming to be from The Wishing Well Foundation.
They were instructed to send money to cover the taxes on a large monetary prize they had won. The two, who shared a residence in Hancock, N.H., sent two checks totaling nearly $27,000 to the Johnson Hall room. They were told to write the checks out in the name of the woman to insure the safety of the prize money. Also, they were assured the checks would be returned when the prize money was received.
Neither received any prize money.
The last charge listed on Iyar’s warrant was a complaint from a woman who sent cash to pay the taxes on her prize money. The letter, sent from Dalhart, Texas, was delivered to the Johnson Hall room directed to “T.I. Reg.” on Dec. 1, 2001 and contained $1,000 in cash.
During a consensual search of the Johnson Hall room on Dec. 4, University police observed a Pennsylvania identification card in the name of the Hancock, N.H. woman with Iyar’s picture. Within the same search, in which Iyar, her roommate and the Residential Director of Johnson Hall were present, Temple police confiscated $1,000 in cash.
The rest of the money was recovered later in the investigation; although, police could not confirm where or how the money was retrieved.
Lieutenant Robert M. Lowell said the investigation was now a “coordinated effort,” but could not divulge if that effort included other higher government agencies.
The day after the search, police recovered a package from the Johnson mailroom sent from Modesto, Calif. Upon interviewing the sender, Temple detectives found that the woman had been contacted by someone representing the Make a Wish Foundation and was instructed to send a fee to claim a prize she had won from the charity.
The woman stated she mailed $2,000 in traveler’s checks to the Johnson Hall room.
After reviewing the delivery log that all students must sign when picking up packages, Temple police discovered that Iyar had signed for five packages between the dates of Nov. 15 and Dec. 1, two of which came from the addresses of the people in New Hampshire and Texas. Later, investigators confiscated the mailing labels from the Spring Garden Post Office for the packages, confirming the delivery dates and addresses.
Iyar admitted to signing for the packages, although she was not questioned about one addressed to Joe Heckl, received on Nov. 27, 2001 and according to the log, signed for by Iyar.
According to the administration, there are no records of Heckl being a registered Temple student.
Iyar had also worked as a part-time employee in the Johnson/Hardwick mailroom. She contended that the packages were from her uncle in Canada and contained CDs, money and pictures.
Under the stipulations of her bail status sheet, Iyar was deferred to her parents’ supervision and ordered to remain in either her Temple dormitory or her parents’ residence in Lansdale, Pa.
Prosecuting U.S. Attorney Curtis Douglas did not return phone calls by press time.
A court date has not been set.