ANGELINA COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Deputies with the Angelina County Sheriff's Office arrested the third of three suspects in an alleged hot check ring that involved writing and cashing more that $3,000 worth of fake checks using found routing and checking account numbers Wednesday.
Betty Beshears, 23, of Lufkin, is still being held in the Angelina County Jail on three counts of state-jail felony forgery of a financial instrument, and two counts of state-jail felony engaging in organized criminal activity. No bail amounts have been set for her charges yet.
The other two suspects in the case are Nicholas Dwayne Baker, 27, of Rusk, and Sarah Vadelund Cannon, 28, of Lufkin.
"This is just another example of people continuously trying to figure out a way to get something for nothing," said Cpt. Alton Lenderman of the Angelina County Sheriff's Office.
Baker, who was arrested on Oct. 31, 2015, is still being held in the Angelina County jail on a second-degree felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charge, two state-jail felony possession of a controlled substance charges, a state-jail felony burglary of a building charge, a state-jail felony engaging in organized criminal activity charge, and two misdemeanor traffic charges. Collectively, his bail has been set at $6,000 for the organized criminal activity charge and the two traffic charges.
Cannon, who was arrested on Dec. 15, 2015, is also still being held in the Angelina County Jail on a third-degree felony forgery of a financial instrument-elderly charge, two state-jail felony forgery of financial instrument charges, and two state-jail felony engaging in organized criminal activity charges. Her bail amount has been set at $5,000 for one of the organized criminal activity charges.
According to the arrest affidavit for Beshears, an ACSO investigator interviewed Cannon on Dec. 18, 2018. At first, Cannon denied knowing anything about the hot check cases, the affidavit stated.
Then the investigator told Cannon they had surveillance video footage of her and another woman walking into a Brookshire Brothers store to cash a check, and she told him that the other woman was Beshears, the affidavit stated.
"Fortunately now, there are video cameras and all types of different ways to identify people," Lenderman said.
Cannon also allegedly admitted that she and Beshears had been caught passing and cashing hot checks in Jasper County.
When the ACSO investigator asked Cannon about the other person that was involved in cashing the hot checks, she told him that she and Baker had gone to Nacogdoches and cashed a check at a Lucky's convenience store, the affidavit stated.
Later in the interview, Cannon admitted that the mail lady on her route had accidentally dropped some mail and that she had gotten the routing and account numbers from that mail, the affidavit stated. Cannon also allegedly admitted to using the numbers to make checks and giving them to several people to go cash them.
"In a situation like this, once it starts, and they get away with it, and it's easy, they're going to continue to do it until they get caught," Lenderman said.
According to the arrest affidavit, at this time, the total amount of all the hot checks is $3,050.28. The account information that was used belonged to several elderly people and businesses, the affidavit stated.
The investigation started in August of 2015. A woman told an ACSO deputy that she noticed a large, unauthorized withdrawal from her checking account in the form of a $325 check written to Joc Stop, the affidavit stated.
"There's always some mistake that's made in a crime like this," Lenderman said. "Once these forged checks started coming back, it's just a process of investigation, and then we usually get them from there."
Further investigation revealed that other, similar cases had been filed with the sheriff's office, the affidavit stated. Most of the people and businesses victimized by the hot check ring were in the Redlands area, and the checks ranged in amount from $325 to $462.