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12 indicted for $1 million counterfeit check scheme

Twelve Chicago-area residents have been indicted for allegedly creating more than $1 million in counterfeit checks with stolen bank account information.

The group created hundreds of counterfeit checks that they cashed at banks throughout the Chicago area between August 2010 and December 2012, according to an indictment unsealed Thursday. The group successfully cashed more than $700,000 of the fake checks, and the leaders shared the proceeds.

Latrese Leshore, 30, of Chicago, used her job processing health insurance applications and payments to make copies of authentic checks and bank account information that she sold to Kenneth “Black” Pearson, David Kotlicky and Eric Jackson, according to the indictment.

The three used the stolen checks and account information to make counterfeit checks, the indictment stated. Pearson and Kotlicky then made changes to the customers’ bank accounts so they could monitor account activity and intercept bank employees’ questions about suspicious activity to prevent detection.

Pearson, Kotlicky, Jackson, Stacey Sanders, 38, and Deangria Wells, 27, both of Chicago, recruited people to cash counterfeit checks — usually worth $2,500 — at area banks, according to the indictment. The group then allegedly paid the “runners” a fee and distributed the remaining proceeds among themselves.

Pearson, 39, of Chicago, was charged with 32 counts of bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He remains in federal custody pending a detention hearing before U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Kotlicky, 23, of Downers Grove, was arrested Nov. 27 and ordered held without bond, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Jackson, 24, of Chicago, has not yet been captured and a warrant remains out for his arrest.

Also indicted are Roger Elam, 48, his sister Rosie Elam, 59, Lynada Mahone, 34, her cousin Antione Mahone, 24, Tovise Stone, 34 and Starlinda Stubbs, 21, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. All six are from Chicago.

All 12 defendants were charged with at least one count of bank fraud. Pearson, Kotlicky, Jackson, Sanders and Leshore were also charged with one count of aggravated identity theft.

Kotlicky was also charged with one count of passing $80 in counterfeit currency.

Each count of bank fraud carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Aggravated identity theft has a mandatory consecutive sentence of two years in prison and a maximum $250,000 fine, and passing counterfeit currency has a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The indictment also seeks the forfeiture of about $1 million form Pearson and Kotlicky.



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