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Manager of Atlanta, Georgia counterfeit check ring sentenced

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 24, 2012

St. Louis, MO - The United States Attorney’s Office announced today that the manager of a counterfeit check ring who used homeless people to pass the checks was sentenced to 51 months in prison as a result of a guilty plea to charges of conspiracy to defraud, theft of mail and aggravated identity theft.

In October 2010, investigators from St. Charles County, St. Louis County and the City of St. Louis began notifying the Postal Inspection Service and the Secret Service of homeless individuals who were cashing counterfeit checks throughout the metropolitan area. Residents of Atlanta, Georgia traveled to the St. Louis area in order to steal checks from the mailboxes of local businesses. Using the information on the stolen checks, they counterfeited new checks and made them payable to homeless individuals who had been recruited from the St. Louis Metropolitan area. On March 17th and on March 24th, Cuevas Ban’e Cost and four others traveled from Atlanta to St. Louis in order to engage in the scheme. Cost was responsible for counterfeiting the checks, directing the forgery of the completed checks, conducting surveillance while the checks were being cashed and paying the check cashers.

On March 24, 2011, Cost and his co-conspirators were arrested after trying to cash a counterfeit check at a Brentwood, Missouri bank. Cost possessed counterfeit checks and $1,500 in counterfeit currency which he intended to use as payment for the homeless individuals. In the hotel room he shared with one of his co-defendants, LaPortia Byrd, law enforcement officials found counterfeiting equipment including computers, printers and blank check stock, as well as checks stolen from more than 18 individuals and companies. The value of the stolen checks found in the hotel room, the counterfeit checks which had been passed during the scheme, and the counterfeit checks found during in the conspirators’ vehicles and hotel room was $42,407.

CUEVAS BAN'E COST, JR., Atlanta, GA, was sentenced today before United States District Judge Jean C. Hamilton.

Co-defendants, Timothy C. Clark, Darrell L. Thomas and LaPortia A. Byrd, residents of Atlanta, Georgia; and Anthony Mack and Lorenzo C. Long of St. Louis, have been sentenced.

This case was investigated by St. Charles and St. Louis County Police Departments, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, Maryland Heights Police Department, the Postal Inspection Service and the United States Secret Service. Assistant United States Attorney Tracy Berry handled the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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