Athens Review, Athens, Texas

April 12, 2013

Four arrested in forgery ring

Counterfeited checks drawn on four companies with valid routing, account numbers

Rich Flowers
The Athens Review

Athens — An Athens Police Department investigation into a forged check ring resulted in four arrests and warrants issued on eight other suspects Thursday.

Detective Cpl. James Bonnette said he is also developing a case on another person of interest in the case who could turn into a 13th suspect. All of the suspects are from the Athens area.

APD arrested Ricky Bryan Flippo, 35; Shawna Kay Simpson, 25; Daniel Richard Simpson, 26;  and Misty Ramsey Kelly, 38, on Thursday for engaging in organized criminal activity, a third-degree felony. Bond was set at $10,000 on Flippo, $5,000 on Daniel Simpson, $5,000 on Shawna Simpson and $4,000 on Kelly. All remained in custody Friday afternoon.

Bonnette said the warrants stem from 30 bogus checks passed in the Athens area during the last two weeks of March. The checks were presented at stores in Athens, Mabank, Seven Points, Malakoff and Chandler. The persons named in the warrants are also suspected of making unsuccessful attempts to cash the checks.

“They are counterfeiting payroll checks,” Bonnette said. “They have been drawn on four separate companies, using valid routing and account numbers.”

Bonnette said although the checks at first glance look like a paycheck from one of the businesses, the company name is usually a bit incorrect. He said he was not sure why the company names are written on the check incorrectly, but believes it might be a tactic to fool police.

“A lot of times they don’t think about the routing and account numbers being able to be tracked,” Bonnette said.

The ring members are probably not very experienced in counterfeiting checks, but most have other criminal activity on their records, Bonnette said.

When the organized crime warrants were issued, Kelly was already in jail for an April 5 attempt to pass a forged check at Chaney’s Check Cashing in Athens. Flippo was also arrested at the time on an existing warrant, but was released on April 6.

APD is in the process of serving the remaining warrants. Meanwhile, Bonnette said, the investigation into the ring is ongoing, and he is hoping to locate the location where the fake checks were created.