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No jail for man in Ferrari forgery

(ran SS ediiton of METRO & STATE)

A Tampa man is sentenced to 36 months' probation after he pleads no contest to altering a $50 cashier's check to read $50,000 to buy a Ferrari.

A red sports car, Alexander Guyster thought, would impress his girl. So he took her on a test drive and wrote a check. But investigators soon discovered that Guyster had faked the buy using scissors and glue to forge the check.

Monday, Guyster, 28, was sentenced to 36 months' probation after pleading no contest to using the doctored $50,000 check that turned out to be worth only $50.

Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Dee Anna Farnell ordered Guyster to stay away from the victim, Largo businessman Jerry Marino, and pay about $650 in court costs.

"It's just one of those stupid things that people do," said Ronnie Crider, who represented Guyster. Crider pointed out that there was no damage to the car when it was returned.

Guyster, 1290 Pepper Place in Tampa, was charged with grand theft auto and uttering a forged instrument in October.

According to police, Marino took out an ad in the publication Auto Trader to sell the car for $55,000. Responding to the ad, Guyster went to Marino's house with what looked like a cashier's check for $50,000 and introduced himself as Michael Atwood.

Guyster and his girlfriend drove around in the 1984 Ferrari Mondial for a while. Guyster then sealed the deal by handing over the check.

The next day, Marino tried to deposit the check and was told the cashier's check had been issued for only $50.

Investigators traced the check to NationsBank and then obtained surveillance video of Guyster buying it there.

After police identified Guyster as the suspect, he surrendered. However, he first tried to bargain with detectives over the phone: no charges in exchange for the location of the car.

Police found the car in Oldsmar, parked in the driveway of rental property that Guyster's parents own.