Eleven people are accused of collaborating to steal more than $14,000 by cashing fake payroll checks last summer at Fort Wayne businesses.
According to court papers, Nathaniel Dickey cashed one of the first checks June 30 at Kroger, 218 E. Pettit Ave. A store clerk accepted the fake payroll check said to be from Bane and Associates, a staffing agency, and gave Dickey $468.72, court papers stated.
Other checks were cashed in much the same way. From June to September, Dickey and the others cashed 29 checks for a total of $14,210, according to court papers.
The checks, all between $450 and $500, were passed at several businesses in the city, including Kroger, Wal-Mart, Summit Market and Sav-A-Lot, court papers stated. The checks claimed to be issued by Master Spas, Quickcuts, Tower Staffing and Bane and Associates.
The group is accused of stealing payroll account information from those employers to create the counterfeit checks, court papers stated.
A member of the group, Adel Buelow, told Fort Wayne police she received fake payroll checks from Angela Fett, cashed them and divvied up the money with the others.
Buelow told police Fett and Fetts son, Travis Bloom, who worked at Master Spas when the checks were being passed, would drive members of the group to businesses to cash the checks, court papers stated.
Bloom, of the 7600 block of Bojrab Drive, and Fett, 40, of the 300 block of Plaza Drive, have each been charged with a single count of corrupt business influence.
Fett, the apparent ringleader, was convicted of five counts of forgery in 2004, court records show.
Dickey, 57, of the 100 block of West Creighton Avenue, and Buelow, 22, of the 1700 block of Hillside Avenue, each face felony counts of corrupt business influence and theft.
Charged with the same counts are Nigel Brown, 22, of the 3100 block of Vance Avenue; Kiera McNeil, 19, of the 1100 block of Delaware Avenue; Bernard Jones, 51, of the 100 block of West Creighton Avenue; Brenda Jones, of the 7900 block of Decatur Road; Anthony Moore, of the 1000 block of West Washington Boulevard; Preonda Jones, 31, of the 7900 block of Decatur Road; and Kenneth Rollingcloud.
This is not the first time Fort Wayne has seen a large-scale payroll check scam. In 2011, eight people were charged with cashing fake payroll checks purported to be from Paragon Home Care.