A forged-check ring was able to scam several banks out of more than $700,000 over a two-year period after trying to pass $1 million in fake checks, federal authorities alleged today in an indictment against 12 people.
In the scheme, which started around August 2010, a Chicago man and his co-conspirators created more than $1 million in fake checks, according to the indictment against Chicago resident Kenneth Pearson and 11 other people. Pearson, 39, was arrested last week and the indictment against him was filed under seal last month, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney's office.
Already arrested in November was David Kotlicky, 23, of Downers Grove. Still at large is Eric Jackson, 24, of Chicago.
The scheme centered on Latrese Leshore, 30, of Chicago, who worked processing health insurance applications and payments and made copies of checks and account information at work, according to prosecutors.
Pearson, Kotlicky, Jackson, Stacey Sanders, 38, of Chicago, and Deangria Wells, 27, of Chicago, recruited people to take the counterfeit checks to bank branches, according to the indictment. Fake checks listed in the indictment ranged in amount from $2,500 to $4,200. They were cashed at banks in Chicago and numerous suburbs, including Oak Brook, Burbank, Evanston, Worth, Arlington Heights, Niles and Woodstock.
All of those indicted face at least one bank fraud charge, and Pearson, Kotlicky, Jackson, Sanders, and Leshore face identity theft charges.
Kotlicky also was charged with passing $80 in counterfeit money.
Prosecutors are seeking the forfeiture of about $1 million from Pearson and Kotlicky.
Kotlicky, Pearson and Antione Mahone, 24, of Chicago, are being held in federal custody. The others indicted are expected to be arraigned this month before U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Kendall.
Bank fraud carries a sentence of up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Identity theft carries a two-year sentence and a $250,00 fine. Passing counterfeit currency carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
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