By October 6, 2017 0 Comments Read More →

Scott McneightThe Bay County Sheriff’s Office has arrested four men from Atlanta after they allegedly hired local transients to cash fraudulent checks for them using stolen personal information. Three transients have also been arrested for their participation.

BCSO Criminal Investigations opened an investigation after deputies initially responded to a call from a local transient who claimed he had been robbed by two men.

Investigators now believe that four black males came from Atlanta to the Destin area on October 1, 2017, and rented two vehicles. On October 3, 2017, they came to Bay County and two of them─Johnathan Johnson and Germarco Johnson─ picked up transient Scott Allen McNeight, age 44. McNeight was recently released from prison on October 1, 2017. They first asked McNeight if he had a photo ID, which he did. The men took a photo of the ID and sent it to the two other men from Atlanta. A fraudulent check was created using McNeight’s information and stolen routing numbers and checking account numbers.

The other two suspects from Atlanta─Clarence Suggs and Reginald Hughes─ picked up transient James Dean Riles, age 58, for the same purpose.  The two transients were first taken to a thrift store in Springfield. The Atlanta men purchased better clothing for the transients to wear when they entered banks to cash the fraudulent checks. Once dressed, McNeight was taken to a bank on Panama City Beach and was able to cash a 1,600 check. Although the agreement was for the transients to get about $80 for their part in the scam, McNeight took half of the money and fled on foot.

Demarko Johnson and Johnathan Johnson were able to find McNeight at a gas station at Magnolia Beach Road and Thomas Drive. The two men entered the gas station after McNeight, one of them carrying a tire iron. Johnathon Johnson put McNeight in a choke hold, and they threatened McNeight with the tire iron, and took the money, his wallet, and his cell phone.

That was when McNeight called the BCSO to report the robbery. Although initially not forthcoming about the true circumstances surrounding the robbery, McNeight eventually told investigators how he got the money.

James Dean Riles, the other transient, was unable to cash his fraudulent check at the first bank, and was taken by Clarence Suggs and Reginald Hughes to a second bank where he was successful. He was paid $80 and was taken by the two men to Millville and left. Riles then called the Panama City Police Department to file a complaint about what he had done. Riles had important tag information on one of the vehicles.

Using the tag information, investigators were able to learn the two vehicles were rentals and eventually identified the four men from Atlanta. A BOLO was put out to local law enforcement on the vehicles.

One was located at a business on East Avenue and contact was made with Clarence Suggs, age 27, and Reginald Hughes, age 26. They were arrested. Suggs and Hughes were charged with Counterfeiting of an Instrument with Intent to Defraud (two counts), Principal/Accessory to Uttering a False Bank Bill (two counts), and Larceny $300 or more but less than $5000 (two counts).

A BCSO investigator spotted the second vehicle in a grocery store parking lot in Lynn Haven. He watched as a man left a bank adjacent to the parking lot, and got into the vehicle with two black males. A traffic stop was done and Johnathan Johnson, age 22, and Germarco Johnson, age 27, cousins, were arrested. Johnathan Johnson was charged with Robbery with a Weapon, Counterfeiting of an Instrument with Intent to Defraud (two counts), Principal/Accessory to Uttering a False Bank Bill (two counts), Larceny $300 or more but less than $5000 (two counts), and Violation of Probation for Financial Identity Fraud. Germarco Johnson was charged with Robbery with a Firearm, Counterfeiting of an Instrument with Intent to Defraud (two counts), Principal/Accessory to Uttering a False Bank Bill (two counts), and Larceny $300 or more but less than $5000 (two counts).

The white male with them was identified as Charles Edward Sinard, age 39, a transient. He was also arrested and charged with Uttering a False Bank Bill, Larceny $300 or more but less than $5000, and Criminal Mischief, $1000 or more.

The other two transients involved in this case, Riles and McNeight, were also arrested and charged with Uttering a False Bank Bill and Larceny $300 or more but less than $5000.

During a search warrant on the two vehicles two printers, blank checks, cash, and a computer with check-making software were located and seized.

All seven men were taken to the Bay County Jail and booked.

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