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Press Release

Seventeen indicted for bank fraud conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Ohio

Seventeen people were indicted in federal court for their roles in a $165,000 conspiracy to pass fraudulent checks and then withdrew the money, sometimes at a Cleveland casino.

All 17 people are charged in count 1 of the 34-count superseding indictment with conspiracy to commit bank fraud. The defendants, who are from Cleveland unless otherwise noted, are: Devinne P. Hollie, 29; Sade Philpott, 29; Shanita Hollie, 28; Ahmerr Ellis 19; Calvin McPherson, 31; Asia McPherson, 30; Tavio Jack  21; Earl Walker 26; Matthew Johnson 28; Eddie Stacy 56; Darren Shea-Ron 23; Jeffrey Tate, 37, of Euclid; Marnetta McPherson, 35; Chad M. Mason 22; John T. Wilder, 34; Anthony L. McPherson, 56; and Thiotis A. Greene 31, of Garfield Heights.

The remaining counts charge various defendants with individual counts of bank fraud.

The Hollies and Philpott were previously indicted for their roles in the conspiracy.

That trio, acting with the other 14 defendants, engaged in a check-kiting scheme in which they fraudulently obtained funds from financial institutions by depositing multiple counterfeit and forged checks into co-conspirators’ bank accounts, according to the indictment.

They then withdrew the proceeds from those accounts at ATMs, through debit card purchases, and by making withdrawals at a local casino, according to the indictment.

“This group passed bad checks and stole from banks,” said U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach. “They may be trading their time at a glitzy casino for the comforts of a federal prison.”

“These women believed they had found a shortcut to put money in their pockets and now they will have to pay for their criminal behavior,” said Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Cleveland office. “The FBI will continue this investigation in order to bring all individuals involved in this group to justice.”

“The Ohio Casino Control Commission is tasked with protecting the integrity of casino gaming in Ohio,” stated John Barron, OCCC Deputy Executive Director and General Counsel.  “In fulfilling this constitutional duty, the Commission was able to identify numerous fraudulent transactions by several individuals and, with the investigative resources of the FBI and the support of the United States Attorney’s Office, a joint investigation which began seven months ago is an example of the type of cases that can be prosecuted by Federal, State, and Local Law Enforcement when working together.  These individuals are now being held responsible for their illegal actions.”

In most instances, the Hollies and Philpott found a co-conspirator who was willing and able to open a checking account at a bank.  Once these co-conspirators obtained debit cards and PINs for the accounts, they passed these items on to the Hollies and/or Phipott, who then deposited forged and counterfeit checks into the bank accounts.  These deposits typically occurred late at night or in the early morning hours, when the banks were closed and could not detect that the checks were counterfeit and forged, according to the indictment.

The defendants would then often meet at the Horseshoe Casino in downtown Cleveland, where they would use Total Rewards Cards from the casino linked to their bank accounts to make large scale cash withdrawals from the casino’s cage, according to the indictment.

The Hollies, Philpott and the other defendants made deposits of counterfeit and forged checks on approximately 31 different occasions.  The false and fraudulent deposits totaled approximately $165,000, and the banks lost approximately of $120,000. 

If convicted, the defendants’ sentences will be determined by the court after review of the factors unique to this case, including the defendants’ prior criminal records, the defendants’ roles in the offense and the characteristics of the criminal conduct.  In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases it will be less than the maximum.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Om Kakani and Carmen Brown, following an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the Ohio Casino Control Commission.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt.  A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.


Updated June 3, 2015

Financial Fraud