The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office has arrested four men in connection with a counterfeit check cashing ring, in which an estimated $13,000 was stolen.
After several months of investigation, Leward S. Clement, 28, Westlake; James M. Downs, 45, Lake Charles; Charles A. Monceaux, Jr., 44, DeQuincy; and Allen W. Woodard, Moss Bluff were arrested for obtaining and cashing counterfeit checks and using fraudulent IDs on several occasions between Dec. 2, 2016 and Jan. 12, 2017.
Clement is charged with three counts of identity theft, theft of $750 - $5,000, two counts of simple burglary, forgery, monetary instrument abuse, illegal possession of stolen things, and theft under $750. Downs is charged with simple burglary, theft over $650, and six counts of forgery. Monceaux is charged with two counts of bank fraud. Woodard is charged with simple burglary, theft of $750 - $5,000, two counts of forgery, and two counts of identity theft.
Clement's bond is $62,500; Downs' is $13,000; Monceaux's, $13,000 and Woodard's is $33,000.
The first victim contacted the sheriff's office on Dec. 2 and said he lost his wallet and that someone cashed several checks against his bank account.
"During the investigation detectives obtained video surveillance showing Woodard cash the checks. It was also learned one of the checks was made payable to Clement," said Kim Myers, sheriff's office spokeswoman.
Then, on Dec, 8, detectives learned that two checks were stolen out of a Lake Charles mailbox.
The victim was advised by their bank that someone was attempting to cash one of the checks.
"During the investigation, it was learned that the check was fraudulently changed to be made payable to Downs, but when he attempted to cash the check the bank denied the transaction. Detectives obtained photographs from the bank that show Downs attempting to cash the check," Myers said.
Next, on Dec. 10, deputies responded to a call about a burglary.The victims advised that numerous pieces of jewelry, and blank checks were stolen from the home.
"Detectives obtained video surveillance of Downs attempting to use the stolen and forged checks at numerous local stores. It was also learned Downs pawned some of the jewelry that had been stolen during the burglary," Myers said. "When detectives spoke with Downs, he advised them that he was given the checks by Woodard. One of the stolen checks was used to purchase a Yeti ice chest by a subject who was described by store personnel and matched the description of Woodard. It was then learned the Yeti was later pawned by Clement, who used a fraudulent ID with his photograph."
Later, on Jan. 4, detectives learned that several checks were stolen out of a delivery truck in Lake Charles.
"On Jan. 6 Monceaux attempted to cash one of the stolen checks at a local bank but was denied. Detectives were able to obtain the check and the fraudulent ID belonging to Monceaux, which he left behind at the bank. On Jan. 9, Clement attempted to cash one of the stolen checks at a local Wal-Mart but was denied. Detectives obtained the check and fraudulent ID with Clement’s photo from Wal-Mart," Myers said.
Then, on Jan. 10, the sheriff's office responded to a burglary of an Iowa storage facility. Later the same evening Clement was seen in a car that matched the description of the one leaving the scene.
"When detectives searched the car, they located several counterfeit checks, as wells as items that were stolen from the storage facility. Detectives also located numerous counterfeit IDs that had Clements photograph but fake names," Myers said. "Detectives located an ID with the same name that was used when the Yeti was pawned, as well as the ID of the victim whom lost his wallet."
Clement was arrested and booked into the Calcasieu Correctional Center.
One of the counterfeit checks found in the car with Clement was from a local business, and when detectives spoke with the owner on Jan. 12, he advised that someone had already cashed three other fraudulent checks from his business.
"When detectives spoke with Monceaux, whose name was on one of the forged checks, he stated he was responsible for cashing one of the checks from the business," Myers said..
When detectives charged and arrested Woodard, Downs, and Monceaux, they were already incarcerated at the Calcasieu Correctional Center on unrelated charges.
Dets. Edward Curol, Roy Pesson, and John Melton are the lead investigators on these cases.
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