3 arrested in counterfeit check scheme

Lt. Tim Steien with the Haleyville Police Department, examines the counterfeit checks.

HALEYVILLE     - Three people have been nabbed in a counterfeit check scheme affecting not just Haleyville but several northwest Alabama communities, where the individuals were attempting to cash bogus company checks while being in possession of bogus personal checks.
Alfred Joel Stewart, 31, Phillip Ryan Graham, 32, both of Bessemer and Melissa Chapman, 38, of Fultondale, were each charged with possession of a forged instrument at the scene of where Stewart had attempted to cash one of the bogus checks at Goar’s on Highway 13 in Haleyville, noted Lt. Tim Steien, investigator with the Haleyville Police Department.
Police received a call on Aug. 29, by Tim Goar, owner of Goar’s, informing them a man was in the store attempting to cash a bogus check listing the company ServePro.
Goar said that local businesses have been hit hard by attempts to cash bogus checks in the past several weeks, citing that individuals are  trying to cash bogus checks on several local businesses.
He recalled that a female came into the store and tried to cash a ServePro check about two weeks before Stewart was caught in the act.
When asked for identification, the female  produced a license.
“She showed me her license. You could tell her license was fake,” Goar pointed out.
Goar’s refused to cash her check, so she left the store, officials said.  Tim then called another local grocery store Piggly Wiggly to warn them the person may be coming there in attempts of cashing the bogus check, he said.
About a week later, Stewart came into Goar’s attempting to cash a bogus check on ServePro.
“I couldn’t cash the check because I could tell it was a fake check,” Tim said. The man left the store only to return later when asking store personnel if they had seen a bag of pills and weed that he had lost, Tim added.
The same man, identified as Stewart, again returned to the store, this time wearing a Dish Network T-shirt. 
“While I was talking (to police) he came around the corner wearing a Dish Network shirt,” Tim said.
The police responded and found Stewart was trying to cash a ServePro check made out for $193.84, according to Steien.
“The suspect took one of the ServePro checks to a Phil Campbell store and cashed it there,” Steien said.
“We found out he arrived at the store with two other subjects,” Steien added.
Police went to a black 2007 Ford Fusion parked at the south end of Goar’s and found two more subjects, identified as Graham, the driver, and Chapman, the passenger, police indicated.
Police found two checks in the car,  of accounts at a bank but the account numbers did not match, according to Steien. 
These bogus checks had not been made out for any certain amount, police said.
“They just took a name and (printed) it on the check,” Steien said.
Stewart, Graham and Chapman were transported to the Winston County Jail, Double Springs.
Steien also found receipts of businesses in Cullman, Florence, Muscle Shoals, Littleville, Russellville and Phil Campbell, where these three individuals had attempted to cash bogus checks, Steien said.
“They went to Piggly Wiggly in Haleyville and tried to cash the check, but they wouldn’t cash it, so they called Goar’s,” Steien added.
“(Stewart) tried to cash it, but Tim already knew it was counterfeit.”
Police, referring to Stewart wearing a Dish Network T-shirt, noted that the city has been receiving bogus checks on Dish Network the past several weeks.
Possession of a forged instrument is a Class C felony, according to Alabama Criminal Code.
*When a defendant is charged with a crime, the charge is merely an accusation until or unless proven guilty in a court of law.


See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.
Subscribe now!