13 indicted in counterfeit check scheme
MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Thirteen people were indicted for reportedly taking part in a counterfeit check cashing scheme.
According to US Attorney Edward Stanton III, the scheme defrauded Kroger of more than $300 thousand.
Eureka Roshanda Mathis, Khiyenne Tarinee Daniel, Iesha Lazaira Davis, Crystal Lynette Dennis, Paul Anthony Dowdy, Zakiyya Lateefah Fitzgerald, Christopher La Renza Gathright, Larry Joseph Lennix, Marcus T. Simmons, Candice Cammile Starks, Dorsett Starks, Tischinna Amon Walton and Lonell D. Weeks Jr were all charged with conspiracy. All 13 people live in Memphis.
Stanton said the scheme stretched from February 2013 to August 2014.
Investigators say the organizer of this scheme was Eureka Mathis, 36. She reportedly enlisted the help of a dozen other people to help cash stolen and fraudulent checks at Kroger stores across the country.
According to Stanton, Mathis stole checks from mailboxes at Cordova businesses. Most of the stolen checks came from the United Food and Commercial Workers Union's local chapter.
Mathis then reportedly changed the names on the stolen checks to those of her alleged co-conspirators. She also reportedly used the stolen checks as templates to make new checks.
The stolen checks ranged from several hundred dollars to more than $2000.
The Union Food and Commercial Worker's Union Office in Cordova was reportedly targeted.
"No mail, 15 years we never came in on Monday to no mail," said UFCW Director of Organizing Rose Turner.
Turner says surveillance video showed the accused thieves parking across the street at a church and walking across the street to steal the checks from the mailbox.
"We believe in a hard day's work for a hard day's pay," said Turner.
Many of the stolen checks were from employee dues, paid to the union. Money union leaders say they may never see again, but they are still happy the thieves are caught.
Kroger Delta Division released this statement:
"Kroger Delta Division is grateful for the diligent work of our Loss Prevention Department, Organized Retail Crime Unit and the United States Attorney's Office of the Western District of Tennessee. We will support the efforts of our federal government in this investigation."
If convicted, each accused person is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.
In addition, Walton is charged with two counts of receiving and keeping stolen mail, and Davis is charged with one count of the same offense.
Mathis is also charged with four counts of receiving and keeping stolen mail and one count of making counterfeited and forged securities.
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