Skip to main content
Press Release

Lakeland Couple Charged With Bank Fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida

 Tampa, Florida – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces the unsealing of an indictment charging Jovanna Deshawan Forte (39) and William Boyd Burns (44), both of Lakeland, with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and fifteen separate counts of bank fraud. If convicted, Forte and Burns each face a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison on each count. The indictment also notifies the individuals that the United States is seeking a money judgment in the amount of the proceeds of the bank fraud.  Forte and Burns were arrested and made their respective initial appearances on March 6, 2014 and March 7, 2014, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas G. Wilson.  They were both detained.

According to the indictment, Forte and Burns used other peoples’ accounts at local banks to deposit third party checks that were written to the account holders. The amounts of the checks ranged from $1,500 to $3,600, which are under the limits set by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) regulations, providing a lesser delay in the availability of the funds. These third party checks were fraudulent and false when they were deposited by Forte and Burns, because the checks were written on closed accounts and accounts that did not have sufficient funds to pay the amount of the checks.  The fraudulent checks were deposited into these accounts by ATM, after the financial institution was closed. Forte and Burns then withdrew or attempted to withdraw funds, both in cash and through debit card purchases, which had been credited to the account from the fraudulent check deposit.  They used the money for personal expenditures.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of the federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

This case was investigated by United States Postal Investigation Service, Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.  It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kelley C. Howard-Allen.

Updated January 26, 2015