jury convicts nixa man of $134,000 counterfeit check, mail theft, identity theft conspiracy
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. ‑ Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Nixa, Mo., man was convicted by a jury in federal court today of participating in a conspiracy to create and cash more than $134,000 in counterfeit checks in a three-state area. The scheme involved stealing mail from businesses in Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma in order to create counterfeit business checks, then using stolen identities to cash the counterfeit checks.
Derrick Haggard, also known as ADisco,@ 34, of Nixa, Mo., was found guilty on 27 out of 27 counts charging him with leading a conspiracy to commit bank fraud, create and cash counterfeit checks and steal mail from July 1 to Oct. 25, 2010.
During the time of the conspiracy, the group was successfully able to pass $61,335 in counterfeit checks at financial institutions in Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma. The group unsuccessfully attempted to pass an additional $73,111 in counterfeit checks.
Co-defendants Lisa Strait-Destefano, 39, of Nixa, Dietrich Haggard, also known as AD-Ball,@ 31, and Drew Michael Basten, 23, both of Springfield, Mo., Paul Douglas, Jr., 44, of Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo., Christopher Quale, 26, of Saint Robert, Mo., Lawrence Eidson, 50, of Buffalo, Mo., and Zachary Skinner, 24, have pleaded guilty.
Strait-Destefano and Haggard led the conspiracy to create counterfeit checks using original checks and other material that the group stole from private mailboxes in Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Haggard recruited individuals, including Dietrich Haggard and Eidson, to steal mail from private mailboxes.
Dietrich Haggard and Eidson, along with others associated with the scheme, primarily stole mail from business locations, looking for mail which contained original checks so that the original checks could be counterfeited. They provided those checks to Derrick Haggard and Strait-Destefano, who created the counterfeit checks.
Derrick Haggard recruited persons, including Douglas, Quale, Eidson, Skinner and Basten, to take the counterfeit checks to financial institutions or commercial establishments and attempt to cash them. Strait-Destefano directed Derrick Haggard and others as to which businesses to approach, based upon her experiences in the banking industry. Strait-Destefano and Derrick Haggard provided the check passers with false identification documents, which used the identity of real persons without their permission to match the names placed on the counterfeit checks.
Following the presentation of evidence, the jury in the U.S. District Court in Springfield, Mo., deliberated for under four hours before returning the guilty verdict to U.S. District Judge Richard E. Dorr, ending a trial that began Monday, Jan. 9, 2012.
Under federal statutes, Haggard is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of at least 2 years in prison and a maximum up to 30 years in federal prison without parole. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall D. Eggert. It was investigated by the U.S. Postal Service, the U.S. Secret Service, the police departments of Springfield, Branson, Hollister, St. Robert, Carthage, Nixa, Troy, Strafford, Union, Washington, Linn, Lebanon, and Neosho in Missouri, the Tulsa, Okla., Police Department, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Christian County, Mo., Sheriff=s Department, the Greene County, Mo., Sheriff=s Department, the Fayetteville, Ark., Police Department, the Arkansas State Police, and the Crawford County, Kan., Sheriff=s Department.