Three Men 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 today that three men have been sentenced for their roles in a bank fraud conspiracy that used homeless men to cash counterfeit payroll checks at banks in the Kansas City area.
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 has been passed by various crews that travel across the country to steal business mail, create counterfeit payroll checks and recruit homeless men to cash the counterfeit checks.
Truly Matthews, 48, and Calvin Almond, 47, both of Atlanta, Ga., and Gary Merritt, 55, of Kansas City, Kan., (formerly of Atlanta) were sentenced by U.S. Chief District Judge Greg Kays on Monday, Jan. 26, 2015. Matthews was sentenced to 10 years and four months in federal prison without parole and ordered to pay $62,861 in restitution. Merritt was sentenced to five years in federal prison without parole and ordered to pay $239,092 in restitution. Almond was sentenced to two years and 11 months in federal prison without parole and ordered to pay $57,772 in restitution.
Each of the three men pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to commit bank fraud from Dec. 21, 2012, to Feb. 1, 2013.
Matthews, Merritt and Almond admitted that they and the other conspirators recruited homeless men to cash a total of $233,728 in counterfeit checks in December 2012 and January 2013. They unsuccessfully attempted to cash an additional $59,344 in counterfeit checks.
Matthews’s role in the conspiracy was to assist in the printing of counterfeit payroll checks that he knew would be passed by homeless men at banks in Kansas City. Merritt and Almond found homeless men in Kansas City and recruited them to pass counterfeit payroll checks at banks in Kansas City.
Almond was first recruited to the bank fraud scheme in 2002, when he was arrested and served prison time for his role in the scheme. In January 2013, Almond was again recruited into the scheme and agreed to act as a driver on road trips to Kansas City, Mo., and Lincoln, Neb., knowing that the purpose of these trips was to recruit homeless men to pass counterfeit checks. When conspirators became suspicious about police surveillance in Kansas City, they traveled to Lincoln to continue the same scheme.
Co-defendants Anthony Bernard Lowe, 54, and Marcus Bryant, 34, both of Atlanta, Derrick Nate Andrews, 23, of Decatur, Ga., and Howard Youngblood, 41, and Michael Lee McWilliams, 54, both of Kansas City, Mo., have also pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy. Lowe was sentenced to four years and four months in federal prison without parole and ordered to pay $233,728 in restitution. Andrews was sentenced to time served and ordered to pay $57,772 in restitution. Youngblood was sentenced to time served and ordered to pay $10,693 in restitution.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John E. Cowles. 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.