A 28-year-old man involved in an elaborate check-cashing scheme that victimized Billings banks and businesses last October and November was sentenced Friday to 10 years probation and ordered to repay the victims $10,000.
District Judge Michael G. Moses issued the 10-year-suspended sentence to James Michael Dailey for 10 counts of forgery by accountability. Dailey also must pay a $1,000 fine.
“You were used, but you allowed yourself to be used,” the judge told Dailey.
According to prosecutors, Dailey was one of several transients recruited by two Georgia men with Atlanta gang ties — Xavier Cornelius Shields, 22, and Ryan Vincent Hill, 26 — to participate in a check-cashing scheme last October and November.
The Georgia men would steal payroll checks from the mailboxes of local businesses and use the transients’ personal information to forge the checks, according to an affidavit. The Georgia men would then pay the transients to cash the checks at area banks, court records say.
“If there was any way I could go back and change it I would,” Dailey said, apologizing for his “stupid mistakes.”
In a separate case, the Yellowstone County Attorney’s Office has charged four other men from Georgia and a number of other transients in connection with an identical check-cashing spree committed in January.
Between the two cases, about 15 people have been charged and are at various stages in the court proceedings.
The total value of the dozens of forged checks cashed between the
two cases was about $117,500, according to court records.
An affidavit states that U.S. Postal Service inspectors have informed investigators that the suspected architects of the scheme have been under investigation around the country.