Four people are behind bars, suspected of forging checks — including several purported to have been cut by the state treasury — worth more than $12,000.
Brian Long, Darius Stokes, Shanta Jackson and Harold James were done in by bank safeguards and apparent clumsiness on their part.
The alleged scheme began to unravel late last month, according to state Treasurer John Kennedy’s office.
Kenner police called the office May 30 to ask if a $412 check found on Long was valid. It was not immediately clear Thursday why police were investigating Long.
The treasury later began noticing that several other checks were being flagged as questionable through a process known as “positive pay.”
The process essentially involves an institution such as a government agency or a business providing its bank with a list of checks it wrote that day, which the bank later uses to verify check-cashing transactions.
A review of checks for unclaimed property — money the state is holding for individuals for various reasons — showed that some check numbers were duplicates, check amounts were different from the original issues, check images were not on the right paper stock and Kennedy’s signature was not the same as it is on checks legitimately printed by the state treasury.
Gretna police said earlier this week that they had arrested Jackson and James and found them in possession of fake checks from various businesses, fake checks from a state office and a stamp with an unnamed elected official’s signature on it.
Plaquemines Parish authorities, who also were investigating the case, told treasury officials that the suspects had a rubber stamp with Kennedy’s signature on it.
The 18 fraudulent treasury checks totaled $8,402.73 but were not paid out thanks to the positive pay process.
Two other phony checks, supposedly written by Heavy Equipment Mechanic of New Orleans, totaled $3,958.88.