Local jury convicts Houston man for check scam
A Caldwell County jury convicted Derrick Ramon Ford of Houston of three counts of engaging in organized criminal activity and sentenced him to eight years in the state penitentiary, with a fine of $10,000 on each count in connection with a counterfeit check operation that covered the state of Texas. The sentence was pronounced by Judge Todd A. Blomerth in the 421st District
Court. Ford and two others, Paxton Mongrel Warren of Missouri City and Harry Lamar Gahagen of Houston, were indicted for the check counterfeiting and forgery scheme which targeted WalMart stores around the state and possibly outside of Texas. All three men are represented by attorney Kirby Taylor of Houston. Gahagen pleaded guilty to the charges before trial on Monday and awaits sentencing. Warren still faces trial on the charges.
The three men possessed false identification cards and counterfeit checks which they used to buy merchandise at stores around the state, including the Wal-Mart store in Lockhart. The men routinely kept their purchases under a $200 limit to avoid attracting attention. The scheme fell apart and the three were arrested when Ford returned to the Wal-Mart store in Lockhart where he was recognized from his previous visit by an alert clerk.
Estimates based on all checks passed under the scheme suggest that the three were part of a group using at least 20 different names on counterfeit checks. The total value of the items stolen with the forged checks around the State is over $113,000.
“This was a completed paper trail case and we are pleased that the jury was able to connect the dots on the scheme these guys were running” said District Attorney Chris Schneider. “The alert Wal-Mart employees, their theft prevention people and the Lockhart Police Department did an outstanding job putting this case together, as did Assistant DA”s Whitney Wiedeman and Nicole Rinaldo in trying the case. We are please with the result.”
The three also face charges in Guadalupe County based on their identification there, and may face charges in Hays County as well.
(Courtesy of Chris Schneider)