Six charged with cashing bogus checks at Walmart

Milwaukee residents accused of scheme to steal more than $10,000
By 
BILL SCHANEN IV
Ozaukee Press Staff

    Six Milwaukee residents were charged last week in Ozaukee County Circuit Court with forging checks purportedly issued to them by nursing homes and cashing them at Walmart in Saukville in what authorities describe as a scheme to steal more than $10,000.

    Four men and two women between the ages of 21 and 34 are each charged with felony counts of forgery and identity theft and one misdemeanor count of theft.

    They are Brianna M. Bankston, 27; Christopher D. Beal, 34; Phinneaus A. Haire, 31; Trinaye S. Reid, 26; Aliyah C. Saunders, 21; and Shaniqua S. Smith, 24.

    Haire, who is awaiting trial in Milwaukee County on a cocaine possession charge, also faces a felony bail jumping charge.

    Beal, who was convicted in 2016 in Milwaukee County of possessing marijuana with intent to deliver, is charged as a repeat offender.

    According to the criminal complaint, on Nov. 29, 2017, a Walmart asset protection employee told Saukville police that on four occasions between Nov. 26 and Nov. 28 seven forged checks were cashed at the store. 

The first incident happened at 4:32 p.m. Nov. 26 when three women later identified as Bankston, Reid and Saunders pulled up to Walmart in a dark-red, four-door sedan, entered the store and each cashed checks — two for $1,478 and one for $1,458, the complaint states. 

The checks were written to each of the women, who showed identification, and purportedly issued by St. Maria Nursing Home.

About four hours later, two men later identified as Haire and Love arrived at Walmart in a dark-red, four-door sedan, entered the store and cashed checks in amounts of $1,488 and $1,483. Both checks appeared to be issued by St. Maria Nursing Home, according to the complaint.

On Nov. 28, Beal entered the store at 6:44 p.m. and cashed a check issued to him for $1,375, the complaint states.

About two hours later, Smith cashed a check for $1,420, according to the complaint.

Both checks were purportedly issued by the Pavilion of Waukegon.

The Walmart asset protection employee told police she believed the checks were forged because two of them had the same number and the signatures looked suspiciously digitalized.

A Saukville police officer confirmed the identity of the check cashers using surveillance footage and databases and called Bankston and Haire. They agreed to be interviewed at the police station but never showed up. The officer could not reach Beal, Reid and Smith.

Employees of St. Maria Nursing Home and the Pavilion of Waukegon told police that none of the people involved in the fake check scheme had worked at their nursing home and that the nursing homes had never written them checks, the complaint states.

According to court records, arrest warrants have been issued for all of the defendants.

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