News and Press Releases

defendants sentenced in counterfeit check ring

December 17, 2010


NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – Three members of a counterfeit check ring conspiracy were sentenced this week for running a two-year fraud scheme throughout the Tidewater area that caused more than $50,000 in losses, announced Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

            On Dec. 16, 2010, Shanda L. Gilyard, 40, of Portsmouth, Va., was sentenced to 192 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release. Earlier this week, on Dec. 13, 2010, Cynthia Simmons, 66, and Ollie A. Waters, 56, also of Portsmouth, Va., were sentenced, respectively, to 56 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release and 10 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release.  Each defendant was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $55,182.39.  Both Gilyard’s and Simmons’ sentences were made to run consecutive to other state terms of imprisonment on unrelated charges.

            In June 2010, a federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment charging all three defendants with a conspiracy to commit bank fraud, substantive counts of bank fraud, possession of counterfeit securities and aggravated identity theft. According to the evidence introduced at trial, from 2007 through 2010, Gilyard, Waters and Simmons engaged in a scheme to create and pass counterfeit company checks at various banks throughout the Tidewater area.  The scheme extended for over two years and involved banks and companies in James City County, Norfolk, Hampton, Suffolk, Portsmouth and other cities in the Tidewater area. 

            Gilyard and Simmons recruited dozens of individuals to provide copies of legitimate checks that were then used by Gilyard to create counterfeit checks on a computer.  Gilyard also recruited individuals, including Waters, to present and cash these counterfeit checks at various financial institutions and other businesses, including TowneBank, Wal-Mart, Food Lion and V-Com, causing losses in excess of $50,000.  Gilyard also recruited individuals to open bank accounts at TowneBank that were used to cash counterfeit checks. Gilyard promised and provided payment to these individuals and others for their participation in cashing counterfeit checks. Gilyard was also charged with aggravated identity theft as she used other individuals identities to cash counterfeit checks.

            Waters pled guilty to the conspiracy to commit bank fraud on Aug. 27, 2010.  Simmons pled guilty to one count of production of counterfeit securities of an organization on Sept. 2, 2010.  Gilyard proceeded to trial and was convicted of all 15 counts of the superseding indictment on Sept. 15, 2010.
            This case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service.  Assistant United States Attorney Brian J. Samuels and Special Assistant United States Attorney Kate Albrecht prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.

                          A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at  Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at or on



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