Another man charged in check-cashing scheme

2014-03-20T17:15:00Z 2014-04-11T11:23:04Z Another man charged in check-cashing schemeGazette Staff The Billings Gazette

Another man is facing forgery charges in connection to check-cashing schemes that prosecutors have connected to an Atlanta gang.

Joseph Curtis Morrison Jr., 51, appeared Thursday in Yellowstone County Justice Court on two felony charges of forgery by accountability.

Charging documents say Morrison was a member of a group of transients who were paid by men from Georgia to cash dozens of forged checks in October and November that netted almost $93,000.

Morrison is alleged to have passed two forged checks totaling about $4,000 on Oct. 15.

Judge Pedro R. Hernandez set Morrison’s bond at $7,500 and ordered him to appear for arraignment in District Court on Tuesday.

Two Atlanta-area men and two other transients have been charged in the case.

The suspects from Atlanta are believed to have stolen business checks from mailboxes, copied the checks and then placed the originals back in the mailboxes in an effort to avoid detection, court records state.

The men from Atlanta would then make forged checks payable to the transients, who were paid to cash the checks at area banks, according to charging documents.

Another wave of forged checks cashed in a similar way in January netted another $24,500, according to court records.

Five defendants — a transient from Lame Deer and four men from the Atlanta area — were charged in January in connection to that wave of forgeries. When they were charged, a prosecutor said they appeared to be connected to the defendants in the earlier check-cashing scheme.

Prosecutors have charged a total of 10 people, and court records indicate more people could be charged.

An affidavit states U.S. Postal Service inspectors have informed investigators in Billings that the suspected architects of the scheme are closely associated with a gang in Atlanta, and that they have been under investigation around the country, including in Kansas; St. Louis; Sioux Falls, S.D.; and Eugene, Ore.

In an earlier court appearance, a prosecutor said two of the defendants were also involved in forging checks for as much as $150,000 in South Dakota.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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