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4 tied in check-writing scheme

Four people were charged Wednesday in what officials said was a bad-check cashing scheme totaling more than $60,000.

The investigation into the group started in September when Fort Wayne police worked a case with several bad checks passed at a local business.

During the investigation, police said they learned Charles K. Belcher, 36, Aric Jones, 24, Wiley Buttaro, 21, and Christi Bibbs, 35, had worked as a group for some time and had written bad checks to businesses and banks in the area.

Police discovered that the four had opened checking accounts or had had checks printed for them around the time the check-writing spree began.

After the accounts and checks were in place, the group would write bad checks to businesses for merchandise or would cash checks at local banks, a probable cause affidavit said.

During the 1 1/2 years the four are accused of writing the bad checks, police found that Belcher, of Harlan, had written 118 checks totaling $39,500 from his account, the most of anyone in the group.

Jones, of the 5100 block of Archwood Lane, had written 47 checks totaling $12,550 from his account; and Buttaro, of the 3900 block of Newport Avenue, had written 37 checks totaling $7,600 from his account, an affidavit said.

Bibbs, of Monroeville, had the smallest amount withdrawn from her account, with 35 checks written for a total of about $3,400, police said.

None of the suspects was in custody Wednesday evening. Warrants were issued for their arrests.