FireKeepers Casino used by suspects in bank fraud

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - Federal investigators said suspects used FireKeepers Casino and local ATMs and bank branches to steal $200,000 from Bank of America two years ago.

Nineteen people have been indicted in United States District Court and federal and local police began making arrests on Thursday, according to information released Friday by Acting U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge.

A grand jury indicted the suspects on charges of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and executing a scheme to defraud Bank of America.

If convicted, the defendants, who are from Michigan, Illinois and Georgia, face up to 30 years in prison.

The 28-count indictment, filed Aug. 15, alleges that the group conspired from November to December in 2015 to open bank accounts at Bank of America. Then fraudulent checks were deposited in the accounts and after the bank credited the account the holder of the account or others used a debit card to obtain money before the bank determined the deposited checks were fraudulent.

Officials allege that the suspects withdrew money from the accounts from Bank of America branches, ATMs or in several cases by obtaining debit cards and cash advances at FireKeepers Casino in Calhoun County's Emmett Township.

The scheme is call cracking cards, according to federal officials.

The indictment alleges that more than $171,000 was obtained using debit cards to obtain cash advances 18 times at the casino.

The case was investigated by the FBI and U.S. Postal Inspection Service with assistance by the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi Tribal Police Department.

Defendants are being arrested by the FBI and Postal Inspectors with help from officers from the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety and several state law enforcement officers assigned to the FBI's Grand Rapids Violent Crime and Fugitive Task Force, the Muskegon Safe Streets Task Force, and the St. Joseph Violent Crime Task Force.

Birge said those indicted are: Earl L. Cobb, IV, Tirrell P. Thomas, Nickolas M. Fry, Jerome D. Perry, Josiah N. Preston, James Langford, Sean A. Haney, Kevin L. Hunter II, Brenda M. Davis, Darmesha L. Gunn, Elnora Snipes, Mary Radcliff, Desiree A. Winfield, Kyle D. Mosley, Crystal K. Pugh, Antoine N. Younger, Tiffany D. Sanders, Dwayne E. Perry, and Kelsey A. Thompson.

Officials did not release ages or home towns of the defendants.

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© 2017 Battle Creek Enquirer


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