springfield men indicted in wire fraud conspiracy
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – David M. Ketchmark, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that two Springfield, Mo., men have been indicted by a federal grand jury for a conspiracy to use forged and altered checks to defraud local businesses.
Martinus Antuan Sayles, 35, and his twin brother, Maurice Suton Anton Sayles, also known as “Ish Washington,” 35, both of Springfield, were charged in a four-count federal indictment that was returned under seal on April 4, 2012.
The federal indictment alleges that both defendants participated in a conspiracy to commit wire fraud from March 31 through Aug. 5, 2011. According to the indictment, Martinus and Maurice Sayles obtained stolen checks belonging to various businesses and individuals. They allegedly forged and altered the checks by cutting out digits from the routing and account numbers and replacing them with other digits using glue and a hammer. They passed the forged and altered checks at various retail stores and other businesses throughout the Springfield area.
The defendants then returned the merchandise they purchased for a cash refund, the indictment says. They also allegedly recruited other individuals to return the merchandise for them. They often facilitated the return of the stolen merchandise by altering the purchase receipts to appear as though the purchases had occurred more than 10 days before the returns, according to the indictment. This was allegedly done to circumvent the 10-day return policy most stores had in place, which required customers paying by check to wait at least 10 days before returning merchandise, in order to ensure the check had cleared the bank before any refund was issued.
The indictment also alleges that the Sayles, as well as other individuals they recruited, sometimes used false identification to pass the checks. Maurice Sayles allegedly created the false identifications using a label maker to alter the existing identification card or driver’s license of the individual passing the check, in order to match the name of the account holder on the check.
In addition to the conspiracy, Maurice Sayles is charged with three counts of wire fraud.
Ketchmark cautioned that the charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robyn L. McKee. It was investigated by the Springfield, Mo., Police Department and the U.S. Secret Service.
NOTE: This is a revised version of the original press release that was issued on April 10, 2012. The U.S. Attorney's Office filed a motion on April 11, 2012, to dismiss the charges against one individual in the indictment, who has been removed from this press release.