A second man who was involved in a complex scam that involved producing fake checks on the bank accounts of local businesses has pleaded guilty in federal court.
Javonte J. Johnson, 22, of Decatur, Georgia, pleaded guilty Wednesday to counts of conspiring to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft for his role in a scheme to defrauded local banks of hundreds of thousands of dollars last year.
Police believe the duo were part of a nationwide ring based in Georgia that sent representatives around the country to steal from banks in the same sort of scheme, stealing mail to get bank account numbers, producing fake checks and enlisting people they met at stores to cash them. They would pay the unwitting accomplishes $20 or so per check.
It was one of the people who was solicited at a Glens Falls convenience store to cash checks who gave police the break to unravel the case last fall.
That person came forward to Glens Falls Police after questioning whether they were in legal trouble for cashing three checks for the men at banks around the region for nearly $12,000 in late September.
At that point, police had not linked together check forgery cases that were starting to be reported by local businesses, in which fake checks on legitimate bank accounts were created.
But State Police and a host of law enforcement agencies around upstate New York and Vermont began to see connections in the forgeries, and an investigation ensued that led to the arrest of Johnson and Alphonso L. Howard Jr., 26, in a Queensbury hotel room last September. They had computers and at least one document scanner and printer.
Both Johnson and Howard entered guilty pleas with the understanding they receive mandatory federal prison sentences of up to 30 years, as well as a requirement they make at least $164,077 in restitution.
They are being held in unspecified jails pending sentencing, Howard on Aug. 13 and Johnson on Oct. 29.
Johnson was represented by Samuel Breslin, who could not be reached for comment Thursday morning.
The agencies involved included the FBI and the State Police from the Queensbury and Granville stations, the district attorney’s offices in Saratoga and Warren counties, Glens Falls Police, the Burlington, Vermont Police Department, Vermont State Police and the Stowe, Vermont Police Department.