Two sentenced in counterfeit check scheme

Published 7:27 pm Monday, November 12, 2012

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Two Birmingham residents will spend several years in prison after they pleaded guilty to helping to pass more than $187,000 worth of counterfeit checks in Walmart stores across northern Alabama, including stores in Alabaster, Pelham and Chelsea.

According to court documents, U.S. District Judge David Proctor sentenced Arnetta “Peaches” Johnson to 37 months in prison on Nov. 7, and Chief U.S. District Judge Sharon Blackburn on sentenced Darrelle “Big Boy” Coleman to 46 months in prison on Nov. 8.

Both sentences will run concurrently with prison sentences the two Birmingham residents received in similar cases in federal court in Mississippi.

U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance said Johnson and Coleman “admitted to taking varying leadership roles” in a scheme to pass counterfeit payroll checks at Walmart stores. Johnson admitted she participated in passing $119,000 worth of counterfeit checks, Vance said.

According to court documents, Coleman manufactured the counterfeit payroll checks carrying the name of various businesses, and made them out to other individuals involved in the scheme. Each check appeared to bear the signature of a representative from the business named on the check.

After manufacturing the counterfeit checks, Coleman and Johnson transported “check runners” to Walmart stores in Shelby, Jefferson and Tuscaloosa counties. The individuals named on the checks then cashed the checks and split the money with Coleman and Johnson, according to court documents.

The Alabaster and Hoover police departments helped the U.S. Secret Service in investigating the case.