ALBANY — Two men from Georgia who ran a sophisticated fake check scam in upstate New York and Vermont have been sentenced to federal prison terms.
Alphonso L. Howard Jr., 29, of Decatur, Georgia, was sentenced to 4 years in federal prison and 3 years on parole, while Javonte J. Johnson, 23, of Decatur, Georgia, was sentenced to 3 years in prison to be followed by 5 years on parole, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
They will also have to make $119,077 in restitution, and agreed to forfeit over $19,000 in cash they were found to have when arrested last year.
Howard also faces a parole violation proceeding in Wisconsin, where he was previously convicted of participating in a previous check cashing scheme, authorities said. That could result in additional prison time.
The two men pleaded guilty earlier this year to felony 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 con men around the country to steal from banks through 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.
They were arrested by State Police in a Queensbury hotel room one day in September 2018, the room containing laptop computers and at least one document scanner and printer.
Police linked them to similar check scams in Warren, Saratoga, Washington and Jefferson counties as well as central and northern Vermont.
State Police from the Queensbury and Granville stations were credited with uncovering the wide-ranging scheme, after a tip from Glens Falls Police.
Don Lehman covers police and court matters, Warren County government and the outdoors. He can be reached at 518-742-3224 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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