Leader of Conspiracy to Steal Treasury Checks Sentenced to 70 Months
Columbia, South Carolina: Colby L. Simmons, age 35, of Lithia Springs, Georgia, was sentenced to 78 months in prison after being found guilty by a jury for his involvement in a conspiracy to pass Treasury checks of the United States bearing falsely made or forged endorsements, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, and making false statements to federal authorities, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001. United States District Judge Timothy M. Cain of Anderson sentenced Simmons and also ordered that he pay over $236,000 in restitution.
Evidence presented at the trial established that there was a multistate conspiracy, beginning in or about June 2013, to steal Treasury checks and cash them. The checks belonged to disabled veterans, retired federal employees, and current federal employees. Several victims appeared at trial and testified about having automobiles repossessed, no money for Christmas gifts, and loss of homes because of the thefts.
The investigation focused on Simmons beginning in June 2014 during a car stop on I-85. Greenville County deputies stopped Simmons and found a Treasury check that did not belong to Simmons and $10,000 in proceeds from the cashing of Treasury checks. On top of the check recovered there was written the driver’s license number of Brandy D. Page, a co-conspirator from Cowpens, South Carolina, who has pled guilty and is awaiting sentencing. The check was sent to the laboratory and it came back as having on it the fingerprints belonging to Joshua A. Martin, a co-conspirator from Spartanburg, South Carolina, who has pled guilty and is awaiting sentencing. Martin and Page arrested some months after the stop of Simmons’ vehicle and confessed to their involvement.
In December 2014, Wal-Mart in Boiling Springs reported that it was the victim of approximately $200,000 in reclamations related to the cashing of Treasury checks. Three cashiers were interviewed and several picked Page out of a line up as a person who cashes multiple Treasury checks in the store. Cashiers also identified Josh Martin as cashing multiple Treasury checks.
In January 2015, the Greer Wal-Mart reported approximately $75,000 in reclamations related to the cashing of Treasury checks. On many of these checks there were written Page’s driver’s license number and date of birth. Others had Martin’s driver’s license number and date of birth. The store also had on file fake power of attorney forms that Page and Martin had used to cash the checks.
Investigation revealed that Page and Martin began cashing checks for Simmons in the summer of 2013. During the initial meeting with Simmons, Page received three to four (3-4) checks. There were many more meetings in which checks were provided to Page and Martin and proceeds from the cashing of the checks were given to Simmons. Simmons brought Treasury checks to Page approximately one to two times per month for at least eighteen (18) months.
The case was investigated by agents of the Greer Police Department, the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office, the Internal Revenue Service, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the Department of Homeland Security, Office of Investigations. Assistant United States Attorney Bill Watkins of the Greenville office handled the case.