Police say they halted fraudulent check ring Officers accuse trio of brazen scheme that yielded it $100,000

September 27, 1998|By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,SUN STAFF

For months, Anne Arundel County police believe, a Baltimore man bought blank checks through a mail-order company, printed false company names on them with his parents' laser printer and cashed them in Maryland and three neighboring states, raking in more than $100,000.

The glitch that brought him and two friends to the attention of police was his boldness, Anne Arundel Detective Tim Holevas said Friday: On the checks was the suspect's address.

Lawrence Mark Fearon, 32, of the first block of E. Chase St. was arrested at 8 a.m. Thursday and charged with check fraud and forgery.

Holevas said the suspect ran to his bedroom and flung 750 checks out a window onto Charles Street seconds before police with a search warrant broke down the door of his apartment.

The two others accused in the case -- Kenneth Corbin Sr., 37, and his wife, Bonnie Arlene Brechbill-Corbin, 27, who live in the same building as Fearon -- were not home when police arrived, Holevas said.

That's because state police had arrested them the night before in Westminster on a traffic charge on Route 27.

While a trooper questioned the couple about the traffic charge, the officer spotted an envelope protruding from Brechbill-Corbin's shirt and asked her about it.

She produced a number of payroll checks for a Maryland Medical Supply, Holevas said. State police Detective Sgt. Kevin Welkner, who had heard of Holevas' investigation, said he called Holevas and the couple was charged with check fraud and forgery.

Carroll County police said the two were being held yesterday in lieu of $2,500 bond each.

"There's two kinds of police work -- lucky police work and good police work," Welkner said. "I think a little of all was involved in all of this. It's just one of these 'small world' type things, like when you run into someone from your neighborhood in France."

Investigation began in June

Holevas said he and Anne Arundel County Detective Paul Roberts began an investigation in June after two liquor stores in the county reported forged payroll checks for more than $450, each in the name of Maryland Medical Supply and bearing Fearon's address.

Holevas said he was immediately suspicious about that address. "I was a Baltimore City police officer and that was my patrol area," Holevas said. "I remembered that to my knowledge, that was a residential building and not a business complex."

When police called a company with a similar name, Maryland Supply, whose number was in the phone book, a manager told them he did not know about the checks but had gotten numerous calls about bounced checks in recent months, Holevas said.

They then sent a Teletype message about their investigation to police in Maryland and neighboring states, Holevas said.

Police in Allegany County, Frederick and Hagerstown say Maryland Medical Supply checks had been cashed in their jurisdictions. Frederick city police said a surveillance videotape they had showed a man and a woman cashing the checks, Holevas said.

Employees at the Baltimore apartment building identified the man and woman as Corbin and Brechbill-Corbin, Holevas said.

'We heard him running'

Thursday morning, after Anne Arundel County and Baltimore police obtained warrants, they searched Fearon's and the Corbins' apartments. Holevas said that when officers knocked on Fearon's door and identified themselves as police, "we heard him running away from the door."

Fearon emerged from the bedroom when they entered the apartment. Officers looked out the open window to see hundreds of checks strewn all over Charles Street, Holevas said.

"I guess he was going to try to shut the window and hope that we would never look out the window," Holevas said.

In addition to Maryland Medical Supply, checks also bore the names of fictitious companies such as Kee Consultants and J. E. Martin Inc., Holevas said. Police said they found 20 driver's licenses from Canada and the United States in Fearon's apartment.

Holevas said Fearon ordered the blank checks through Deluxe Check Co. of St. Paul, Minn., and printing company names on them with his parents' laser printer.

He said police searched Fearon's parents' home in the 16000 block of Philmont Lane in Bowie and found evidence on a computer hard drive. The parents were not charged.

"I honestly think the parents had no clue as to what was going on," Holevas said.

A Deluxe Check Co. spokeswoman could not be reached for comment.

In all, police said, at least 60 checks were cashed in five Maryland jurisdictions and West Virginia, Virginia and south-central Pennsylvania.

Holevas said First National Bank of Maryland operated many of the check-cashing facilities.

Pub Date: 9/27/98

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