Urbana officers probe bank fraud ring

Springfield, other cities being contacted about similar cases.

Urbana police say the men arrested Monday on suspicion of working within a crime ring specializing in bank fraud may be connected to past incidents in the city and elsewhere.

“I think Springfield may have had a few cases similar to this,” said Urbana police Lt. Seth King. “We had an incident back in July that we think might be similar to this as well.

“We’re still kind of early in the process in reaching out to other agencies,” King said.

Kentay Wilkerson, 20, Kyle Hogue, 30, and 33-year-old Gary Burnett were located Monday after a suspicious person reportedly entered the Peoples Savings Bank at 618 Scioto St. and attempted to cash a check. It looked like it was from a local construction business.

The check was worth about $1,300.

The man, later identified as Burnett, fled when police arrived at the bank. After a brief foot chase through an Urbana neighborhood, officers arrested him at gunpoint in the front yard of a home in the 100 block of North Jefferson Avenue.

Police alerted area officers that a white SUV with a temporary license plate may also be involved in the ring. A Champaign County sheriff’s deputy spotted the vehicle in Mutual and stopped the driver on Ohio 29. Wilkerson and Hogue were taken in to custody.

“They’re getting the routing number and the account numbers, and they’re able to print up checks of their own that very closely resemble the actual checks from the business,” King said.

The incident was strikingly similar to an occurrence on Saturday, according to King. In that incident, the check was worth about the same amount. King, however, said on Tuesday that person was “a separate individual,” though “probably associated” with the three who were arrested Monday.

Appearing in Champaign County Municipal Court on Tuesday, all three men said they had been living in Columbus. Hogue’s bond was set at $16,000. Wilkerson’s bond was set at $6,000 and Burnett’s bond was set at $6,000.

In court, Burnett told Judge Susan Fornof-Lippencott that he used to run a construction company but now works for a tree service in Columbus.

“I had it going pretty good there for a while,” he said.

Police said Burnett was approached by one of the other two men at a Columbus homeless shelter. He was essentially asked if he wanted to make some money.

“They used his ID, printed up the check, made it out to him and then brought him to Urbana to cash the check,” King said.

Brice Kadel, president of the Peoples Savings Bank, credited his employees for their actions on Monday.

“Our staff followed policies and procedures which ultimately led to the arrests,” he said.

Burnett, Wilkerson and Hogue all have court appearances set for early October.

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