Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Authorities: Suspects arrested in Hernando involved in check fraud at Publix stores

BROOKSVILLE — Something about the two people cashing checks at the counter in a Spring Hill Publix store last week seemed suspicious to Tim Roth.

So Roth, an off-duty inspector for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, followed the pair to the parking lot, where they got into a car with three other people and drove to the Publix store on Cortez Boulevard in Brooksville, authorities said. Roth watched as two of the car's occupants entered the store and cashed more checks.

Suspecting fraud, Roth called the Hernando Sheriff's Office.

Roth's actions led to the arrest of a man wanted in connection with a multi-state check fraud ring that has racked up substantial losses for Publix, the Hernando County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday.

Leon Edward Stovall, 33, of Orlando is suspected of cashing several hundred fraudulent checks at Publix stores in Florida and several other states throughout the Southeast, authorities said.

Described as the planner and supervisor of the operation who printed checks and altered identification cards, Stovall was already the subject of an ongoing fraud investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement when he was arrested in Hernando County on Friday.

After Roth called authorities that day, Brooksville police arrived at the Brooksville Publix store in time to see the five suspects driving away. Officers stopped the car after witnessing a traffic infraction.

During interviews with a Sheriff's Office detective later that day, authorities say, Stovall and the other four suspects admitted to being involved in a scheme that used counterfeit checks with real business names and random routing and account numbers.

Three of the suspects used altered identification cards to cash at least six counterfeit checks for roughly $2,900 at several Hernando County Publix locations, according to the Sheriff's Office. Those suspects are Amanda Renee Berry, 22, Tammy Anette Duncan, 41, and Joshua Scott Hicks, 26, authorities said.

A fourth suspect, 40-year-old Walter Clinton Ingram, drove the car to the Hernando locations.

All of the suspects are from the Orlando area, and all five were charged with organized fraud.

Three days later, local authorities learned that Stovall was suspected in the multi-state ring, and FDLE officials came to Hernando to interview him. A department spokesman did not return a message from the Tampa Bay Times on Wednesday.

Stovall has a lengthy arrest record in Florida, with convictions for offenses including drug possession, larceny, burglary and fraud.

Publix spokeswoman Shannon Patten said the Lakeland-based company has been working on the case with law enforcement for more than a year. Patten said the bogus checks totaled "hundreds of thousands of dollars."

"We are always updating our procedures and upgrading our systems to help reduce our exposure to check fraud," Patten said in an email to the Times.

News researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this report. Laura Herrera can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 754-6114.

Authorities: Suspects arrested in Hernando involved in check fraud at Publix stores 07/25/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 8:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa-based vXchnge secures $200M loan to expand operations

    Corporate

    TAMPA — Tampa-based vXchnge, which operates data centers in 14 metro areas, has secured a loan for roughly $200 million for "major expansions and enhancements."

    Tampa-based vXchnge, a data center provider, secured a $200 million loan. Pictured is CEO Keith Olsen. | [Courtesy of vXchnge]
  2. Allegiant flight makes emergency landing in California after smoke fills cabin

    Airlines

    FRESNO, Calif. — Smoke filled the cabin of an Allegiant Air jet after it landed at a California airport on Monday, forcing coughing passengers to cover their faces with shirts and firefighters to board the plane, authorities said.

    This frame from mobile phone video shows smoke inside an Allegiant Air jet after it landed at Fresno Yosemite International Airport in California's Central Valley, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. Smoke filled the cabin of an Allegiant Air jet after it landed at the airport on Monday, forcing coughing passengers to cover their faces with shirts and firefighters to board the plane, authorities said. Allegiant said no passengers or any of the six crew members were injured. [Estevan Moreno via AP]
  3. Forecast: Sunny skies, drier air dominate throughout Tampa Bay region

    Weather

    Drier air continues to filter into the Tampa Bay area on Tuesday, with clear skies and a slight chance of light rain during the afternoon.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]
  4. Florida education news: Makeup days, graduation honors, sex education and more

    Blogs

    MAKEUP DAYS: Hillsborough County schools will eliminate four early release days to meet minimum state time per course, after missing seven days because of Hurricane Irma. • Indian …

    School classrooms are back up and running after Hurricane Irma. Districts are now setting makeup schedules for time missed.
  5. Rick and Tom podcast: Bucs' Gerald McCoy frustrated with disrespectful fans

    Bucs

    Rick Stroud and Tom Jones discuss Gerald McCoy's latest comments on disrespectful fans who attack his teammates, Donald Trump, protests by DeSean Jackson and Mike Evans, and his respect for the …

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (93) warms up before an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017.