A Georgia man pleaded not guilty Thursday to a bail-jumping charge alleging he skipped out on a sentencing hearing for his role in an elaborate check-cashing scheme against Billings banks and businesses.
Chaney Demond Sibley, 27, entered the plea after being arrested on a $35,000 warrant.
The Clayton County Sheriff’s Office arrested Sibley in Georgia on July 21, and a private company was hired to return him to Billings, where he was booked into the county jail Monday, according to the Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office.
Sibley was scheduled to be sentenced in June on five felony forgery charges.
A plea agreement in the case recommended Sibley repay the victims and be given a sentence of 10 years to the state Department of Corrections, with all of that time suspended except for the time he has already served, which was about 3 and half months.
When Sibley pleaded guilty to the charges in April, presiding judge Russell C. Fagg agreed with a request that Sibley be released from jail, but warned that there would be “huge consequences” if he didn’t return to Montana for his sentencing.
Sibley has been rescheduled for sentencing on Nov. 25.
According to prosecutors, Sibley and three co-defendants came to Billings from Georgia and recruited transients as part of a check-cashing spree in January.
The men would steal payroll checks from local businesses’ mailboxes and use the transients’ personal information to forge checks. The Georgia men, whom prosecutors have linked to an Atlanta gang, would then pay the transients to cash the checks at area banks.
According to charging documents, the forgers were able to cash about $24,500 in checks at multiple Billings banks between Jan. 6 and 8.
Two other men from Georgia have been charged in connection to a series of check-cashing sprees last October and November that appear to have been committed in the same way and netted about $93,000. Prosecutors have also charged a number of men identified as transients in connection to that case and the January check-cashing spree.