Grandson, 37, gets 2 years for forgery

May 12, 1994|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Sun Staff Writer

A 37-year-old Reisterstown man pleaded guilty yesterday to forging and cashing nearly $3,300 worth of his grandmother's personal checks.

Lonnie Layton Price Jr. -- who is serving time in the Baltimore County Detention Center on a drunken-driving conviction -- entered his plea to one count of felony theft by scheme before Carroll Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr.

As part of a plea bargain, Judge Beck sentenced Price to seven years in prison but suspended five years. He also ordered Price to pay restitution to his grandmother.

Price also pleaded guilty to stealing a car from a Finksburg service station last fall. Judge Beck imposed a concurrent two-year term in that case and allowed Price to participate in a work-release program.

"I just want to apologize to the court and to the people I have hurt," Price said before he was sentenced. "I want to do whatever I can to make this right. I want to start rebuilding my life."

According to the prosecution's statement of facts and other court documents, Price stole one of his grandmother's checkbooks last fall and began forging her signature. He enlisted a friend to cash the checks -- she filled in her name -- after saying his grandmother was helping him find a new place to live. The checks were cashed at a Westminster liquor store in November, court records show.

Price's mother -- who was in the courtroom yesterday -- called police after she noticed canceled checks made out to Price's friend. She told the police, who confronted Price.

In December, Price told police that he had forged the checks. He was served with an arrest warrant in January.

Price said yesterday that his legal troubles stem from drug abuse. Judge Beck ordered him to undergo drug treatment in jail and to submit to random urinalysis during his five years of probation after he is released.

Carroll Public Defender Barbara Kreinar said Price was remorseful and has promised to repay his grandmother.

Assistant State's Attorney Barton F. Walker III called Price "deceitful, a liar, a thief" who stole from his vulnerable 82-year-old grandmother.

Price has been in jail most of this year. He was arrested in January and charged with raping a Westminster woman. A Carroll jury found him innocent of those charges on March 21.

However, he remained in the county detention center until late March, when he was transferred to the Baltimore County Detention Center to face sentencing on a drunken driving conviction.

He also faces charges of nonsupport of his two minor children there, court records showed.

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