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Thirty people arrested in School Board check fraud case

July 5, 2012
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

The Lee County Sheriff's Office Economic Crimes Unit and the Fort Myers Police Department announce the arrests of 30 people in a check cashing scam. During the month of April, 2012 detectives were notified of fraudulent activity involving the Lee County School District's payroll account. Several counterfeit checks had been cashed at multiple locations. The report was filed after district officials received notification from the bank that several subjects uttered counterfeit checks at businesses within Lee County utilizing the payroll bank account number. The counterfeit checks were similar to authentic checks but had been written to individuals that were not employed by the Lee County School District. A fraud alert was immediately placed on the account.

In a joint investigation, detectives began investigating the fraudulent activity and discovered the checks had been cashed at Wal-Mart and check cashing stores within Lee County and the City of Fort Myers. They were able to identify suspects from surveillance video and identification used when cashing the checks.

Over the course of several weeks, thirty men and women were arrested on charges of uttering a false instrument and grand theft. The agencies are still looking for eight people.

The Lee County Sheriff's Office has obtained warrants on the following five people:

Michael J. Farace (DOB 11/07/1964)

Crystal Cherrelle Gary (DOB 04/29/1988)

Rhonda Luvenia Moore (DOB 08/30/1980)

Alexis Rodriguez (DOB 01/28/1968)

Archie Jerome Russ, Jr. (DOB 03/26/1990)

The Fort Myers Police Department is actively seeking information on the whereabouts of three people for additional questioning:

Tenish Ruffin (DOB: 11/24/83)

Joseph Byrd (DOB: 4/15/91)

Alayna Deleon (DOB: 10/12/89)



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