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SUNDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2006
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Store owner helps chase forgery gang in Town Creek

By Melanie B. Smith
msmith@decaturdaily.com· 340-2468

TOWN CREEK — A store owner’s suspicion of a check and his effort to chase down the men who tried to cash it after they fled led to the arrests of three people Saturday in Town Creek.

Police Chief Harold Knighten believes the arrests broke up a check forgery gang based in Florida.

He said that about 12:30 p.m. the owner of the grocery store confronted two men about the check, which bore the name of a Huntsville cleaning company.

Tried to flee

He said the two got into a U-Haul rental truck where a woman waited and tried to get away, but the owner pursued them until police could intercept them.

All three are from Jacksonville, Fla. Being held in the Lawrence County Jail without bond are:

  • Hezekiah Williams, 51, 3318 Old King’s Road, charged with first-degree forgery, criminal possession of a forged instrument, criminal impersonation and conspiracy.
  • Beverly Diane Stinson, 47, 2331 W. 10th St., charged with first-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and conspiracy.
  • Johnie Charles Towson Jr., 52, 234 W. State St., charged with first-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and conspiracy.
  • He also has an outstanding warrant from Duval County, Fla., for aggravated assault and battery.

    Bogus checks

    Knighten said the three had 70 bogus checks worth about $28,000. Sixty-nine of them were on Pro-Clean Carpet Care Inc. with a Huntsville address. He said a Huntsville company has a similar name but a different phone number and address.

    The trio also had 12 different IDs in the vehicle besides their own, Knighten said. Ten were driver licenses, including one Alabama license. The other two IDs were Social Security cards. Knighten said all appeared genuine.

    List of stores

    The chief also said the suspects had a page torn from the yellow pages of a phone book that listed grocery stores in the area. Knighten thinks other stores might have been victims.

    He said he’s called the FBI to assist in the investigation.

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