Police have arrested a man who they call the "leader" of an alleged fraudulent check-cashing ring.
On Thursday, July 11 at 1 p.m., the Lake City Police Department responded to the First Federal Bank on U.S. 90 West near Turner Road regarding an incident involving fraudulent checks.
Officers at the scene were informed that multiple fraudulent checks had been cashed at two different branches of First Federal. Police said the checks were printed with Florida Gateway College logos and information, and were printed on authentic check paper, although a different style of check paper than actually used by FGC.
Thursday afternoon, police said another fraudulent FGC check was passed at the Stop-N-Go on South Main Boulevard in Lake City. The person attempting to cash the check, 29-year-old Benjamin A. Meyers, was detained by LCPD and questioned.
Meyers told police that he was "recruited" by a suspect, identified by investigators as 25-year-old Reginald L. Cherry, to pass the checks and was unaware of any others involved in the scheme.
Also on Thursday, police said three additional fraudulent checks were cashed in Baker County and the passers were identified afterwards. Two additional fraudulent checks were cashed in Suwannee County.
Police said one passer, 31-year-old Lamarcus A. Kelly, was detained by the Live Oak Police Department, and the other, 35-year-old Theodore L. Carter, was identified afterwards.
On Friday, July 12, investigators said two additional suspects passed fraudulent checks at the Walmart in Gainesville by John Doll, 18, and Amanda Scott, 23, unsuccessfully.
Police said Doll and Scott then again attempted to pass the same checks at the First Federal Bank on South Main Boulevard in Lake City. Both subjects were detained by LCPD.
Investigation over the course of the next week revealed that Andre Copeland, 28, and Larry Horne, 42, contacted Alexis Reynolds, 26, and Kaleigh Horne, 27, to assist with cashing fraudulent checks.
Police said Reyonlds then contacted Terocsher Bradley, 38, and Alonzo Ashley, 27, to assist. Horne went to Suwannee County while the other five drove to the First Federal Bank Mall Branch. Earlier the same day, Robert Morris, 22, and Peyton Cleveland, 21, went to the First Federal Bank South Main Branch.
At the South Main Branch, police said Morris and Cleveland successfully cashed two checks totaling just under $2,000. At the Mall Branch, Bradley and Reynolds successfully cashed checks also totaling just under $2,000. They then returned to the vehicle and drove to the First Federal Bank on Turner Road where Ashley successful cashed a check totally just under $1,000.
When Kaleigh Horne attempted to cash another check, suspicious First Federal employees conducted a verification with FGC and determined it to be fraudulent. The subjects left the bank before arrival of police.
As investigators interviewed the various detained suspects, police revealed that Copeland was the "leader" of the group and had provided the fraudulent checks from another unknown suspect.
A warrant was issued for Copeland who was arrested by LCPD and charged with conspiracy and grand theft. Horne and Cherry were also arrested by CCSO on fraud charges.
Police said warrants are being filed on all the other suspects involved for various fraud charges. The investigation is still ongoing to identify additional suspects involved in this conspiracy to defraud members of the Lake City business community.
Anyone with information about this incident or others is asked to call the Lake City Police Department anonymously on their TIP line at 386-719-2068.