Three people have been arrested in Butte County for allegedly participating in a fraudulent check scheme targeting area businesses.
Butte County sheriff’s deputies were dispatched about 9:45 a.m. Monday to California Check Cashing Stores at 1456 Mangrove Ave. in Chico regarding a man attempting to cash a check from a business located outside the city limits.
The business, Llano Seco Rancho, was notified that someone was attempting to cash one of its checks in the amount of $968.67 at the store. The man attempting to cash the check left before deputies arrived, possibly because the store manager said he had to verify the check, according to a Sheriff’s Office news release. Llano Seco Rancho reported that it also had been contacted by the Feather Falls Casino regarding multiple attempts to cash checks with the business’s name at the casino over the weekend.
The subsequent investigation led deputies to a residence on Magnolia Avenue in Chico, where they contacted Markee Leon Harris, Victoria Marie Johnson and Jessica Leah Jimenez. Harris was identified as the man who attempted to cash the check at California Check Cashing Stores. He admitted to that attempt and to cashing a fraudulent check at the Gold Country Casino for more than $1,000 a couple of days earlier, the news release said.
Johnson admitted to cashing a check for $1,108 a couple of days earlier at a Walmart store in Chico, and all three allegedly attempted to cash checks at the Feather Falls Casino, but were turned down there, according to the news release.
Jimenez is accused of printing the checks, and conspiring with Johnson and Harris to cash them for her.
The three suspects consented to a search of the residence, where deputies located printing machines, blank checks and numerous fraudulent checks with different business names printed on them, the news release said. Deputies also found evidence that the suspects were attempting to counterfeit U.S. paper currency, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Jimenez, 35, was arrested on suspicion of four counts of check fraud, conspiracy, grand theft and identity theft, with bail set at $105,000.
Harris, 43, was arrested on suspicion of two counts of check fraud, conspiracy, grand theft, identity theft, possession of a controlled substance and possession of controlled substance paraphernalia. His bail was set at $96,000.
Johnson, 35, was arrested on suspicion of check fraud, conspiracy, grand theft and identity theft, with bail set at $60,000.
All three were booked into Butte County Jail.
Anyone with information pertaining to the case, or who has been a victim of fraudulent checks associated with the suspects, is asked to call the Butte County Sheriff’s Office at 530-538-7322.