Atlanta Man Sentenced for Fraud Scheme That Used Homeless to Cash Counterfeit Checks
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that an Atlanta, Ga., man was sentenced in federal court today for leading a bank fraud conspiracy that used homeless men to cash counterfeit payroll checks at banks in the Kansas City area.
Norman Weaver, 51, of Atlanta, was sentenced by U.S. Chief District Judge Greg Kays to eight years in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Weaver to pay $57,772 in restitution.
On Oct. 20, 2015, Weaver pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to commit bank fraud from Dec. 21, 2012, to Feb. 1, 2013.
According to court documents, Weaver created and led a crime wave throughout several states. Weaver led a conspiracy to steal business mail then use banking information from that stolen mail to counterfeit checks on business accounts. Conspirators recruited homeless men to pass the counterfeit checks to banks. The scheme was very successful for approximately 10 years, which led to the formation of several “crews” originating from Atlanta.
Weaver led one of the longest-lasting and most prolific of the crews. More than $400,000 in counterfeit checks was passed in the Kansas City area over the course of a few months in late 2012 and early 2013. Nationwide, more than $8 million in counterfeit checks was passed by various crews traveling across the country.
Once the counterfeit checks were made, Weaver passed them to the handlers, who then passed them to the homeless persons to cash at local banks. Once checks were successfully passed, Weaver got the money and distributed it as the leader. Investigation revealed an intended loss of $106,341 attributable to Weaver, which included an actual loss of $57,772.
In addition to Weaver, 10 co-defendants from the Atlanta area pleaded guilty to their roles in this conspiracy. Markus Allen Bryant, 34, Gary Merritt, 56, Anthony Bernard Lowe, 54, Preston Tyrone West, 57, Derrick Nate Andrews, 25, Howard Youngblood, 42, and Michael Lee McWilliams, 54, worked for Weaver and recruited more than 75 homeless people to use their own identification to cash the checks. Calvin Almond, 49, assisted others in the scheme and acted as a personal driver for Weaver. Truly Bernard Matthews, 50, assisted in the printing of counterfeit payroll checks. Ariel Weaver Morris, 43, provided check stock to the conspirators to make the counterfeit checks.
Matthews was sentenced to 10 years and four months in federal prison. Bryant and Merritt were each sentenced to five years in federal prison. Lowe was sentenced to four years and four months in federal prison. Almond was sentenced to two years and 11 months in prison. Howard Youngblood, Michael McWilliams and Derrick Andrews were each sentence to time served. Morris is scheduled to be sentenced on Wednesday, June 22, 2016.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathleen D. Mahoney. It was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department, the Leawood, Kan., Police Department and the Atlanta, Ga., Police Department.