News and Press Releases

springfield man pleads guilty to stolen check fraud scheme

October 11, 2012

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – David M. Ketchmark, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Springfield, Mo., man pleaded guilty in federal court today to leading a conspiracy to alter stolen checks and pass them at various retailers in the Springfield area.

Maurice Suton Anton Sayles, also known as “Ish” Washington, 35, of Springfield, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge James C. England to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

By pleading guilty today, Maurice Sayles admitted that he was the leader of the criminal conspiracy that involved at least five participants. Co-defendant Martinus Antuan Sayles, his twin brother, pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy on Aug. 27, 2012.

Martinus Sayles acquired stolen checks from an unidentified person in the Kansas City, Mo., area. Martinus and Maurice Sayles then 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 checks at various retailers throughout the Springfield area and recruited others to pass the forged checks for them.

The actual loss attributable to this scheme is $5,000 to $10,000.
Sometimes the Sayles brothers and those they recruited used false identification to pass the forged checks. Maurice Sayles created the false identifications using a label maker to alter the existing identification card or driver’s license of the individual passing the check to match the name of the account holder on the check. The Sayles brothers, with the assistance of others they recruited, returned the merchandise they purchased for a cash refund.

Many times, the Sayles brothers facilitated their return of the merchandise by altering the purchase receipts to appear as though the purchase had occurred more than 10 days before the return. This was 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 before a refund was issued.

Under federal statutes, the Sayles brothers are each subject to a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000 and an order of restitution. 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 Springfield, Mo., Police Department and the U.S. Secret Service.

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