Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Secret Service Investigates Check Cashing Suspects

NewsChannel 15 has learned Secret Service agents are investigating to see if the 11 people busted in a check cashing scheme in the Pee Dee are connected to an organized crime ring, the MS 13 gang. That's an organized Hispanic crime ring.

This week, police arrested 11 people for a check scam they say duped two stores in Florence and Marion Counties out of $16,000

Police believe many of the suspects are in the country illegally.

Friday morning, all 11 suspects appeared in a Florence County courtroom for a bond hearing. An interpreter helped them understand what was happening. The suspects told court officials they didn't have Social Security numbers or addresses in the Pee Dee, but they did provide phone numbers for the court.

The judge set their bonds at $10,000 dollars each. NewsChannel 15 talked with a bondsman who said it's unlikely the suspects will find a bondsman to work with them. "When a bondsman interviews a potential bond, the first thing they want to know is how strong their community ties are. Without strong community ties, you're going to have a hard time convincing a bondsman to do a 10, 15, 20 thousand dollar bond," said John Ham with Quick Silver Bonds.

All of the suspects qualified for a public defender, because most of them don't make enough money to hire a private attorney. They're scheduled to appear in court again on December 20th.

Secret Service agents are expected to be in town next week to further investigate this case.

At this point, none of the suspects have made bond.

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