WESTMINSTER — Maurice K. Jones was everywhere Visa -- and American Express, the Motor Vehicle Administration and a Carroll County bank -- didn't want him to be.
The 31-year-old Washington accountant or clerk (prosecutors aren't sure which) was convicted Monday in Carroll County CircuitCourt on a single theft charge.
The charges resulted from a two-hour bogus check-writing scheme last November that led county, state and federal investigators to a trunk full of machines used to churn out phony credit cards, driver's licenses and bank account documents.
According to court testimony, the Virgin Islands native, who lived in suburban Washington, used as many as 45 aliases in schemes at banks throughout the country.
Hisventure into Carroll is considered a small part of his financial "empire."
But it was at a Westminster Bank & Trust Co. branch in Gamber where he and a woman were arrested for passing three bogus checks on the same day.
Jones pleaded guilty to the theft charge after anunusual plea negotiation in open court Monday.
His court-appointed attorney, James Salkin of Baltimore, prodded him to accept a guiltyplea to one of the eight charges against him, telling him that he faced a prison sentence of 100 years if a judge or jury found him guilty on all charges.
The single count carries a maximum sentence of 15 years, although the state will recommend a five-year jail term.
After Maryland State Police Tfc. Steven V. Burdelski presented Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. with the evidence prosecutors had amassedin the case, Salkin said jokingly to the judge, "Boy, I wish I had tried that one."
Court testimony showed that Jones and the woman who accompanied him in a rented white Lincoln Continental began their scheme by cashing a check for $500 at the Route 140 branch of Westminster Bank at 10:40 a.m. Nov. 20.
At 10:49 a.m., they cashed a checkfor $500 at the bank's Carroll Plaza branch. About 30 minutes later,they cashed a check for $750 at the bank's Manchester branch.
Allthree checks were drawn on an account said to be held by Ronald Young, and were payable to a Jonnette Gibbons.
In all three transactions, a Pennsylvania identification card in Gibbons' name was used.
A fourth attempt at passing a check was made at the bank's Gamber branch before noon that day.
A teller noted that three checks alreadyhad been drawn during the morning, and she alerted bank security, who called police.
Cash was available in the account, police said, because a pair of bogus checks totaling $8,500 had been deposited daysearlier.
Jones will be sentenced on the theft charge May 27. Multiple federal bank fraud, credit card fraud and forgery charges also have been filed against him, prosecutors said.