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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Lakeland Couple Sentenced For Bank Fraud Conspiracy

Tampa, Florida – United States District Judge Virginia Covington yesterday sentenced Lakeland residents Jovanna Deshawn Forte (39) and William Boyd Burns (45) each to 51 months in federal prison for conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Both pleaded guilty in May 2014. The Court also entered a money judgment in the amount of $385,450, the proceeds of the bank fraud. Forte and Burns were ordered to pay restitution to Wachovia Bank, SunTrust Bank, and Mid-Florida Federal Credit Union.

According to court documents, Forte and Burns used other individuals’ accounts at local banks to deposit third-party checks that were written to the account holders, in amounts ranging from $1,500 to $3,600. 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 check. The checks were deposited into these accounts by ATM, after the financial institution had closed. Forte and Burns then withdrew or attempted to withdraw funds, both in cash and through debit card purchases, that had been credited to the account from the fraudulent check deposits. The withdrawn funds were used for personal expenditures.  Forte and Burns were recorded on video surveillance using nearly 200 accounts at three financial institutions. They obtained at least $385,450 in funds from their withdrawals and purchases.

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

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Updated January 26, 2015