By Mike LaBella
---- — HAVERHILL — Police say a gang that successfully cashed over $10,000 in forged checks in the name of a Ward Hill business was caught after a bank employee noticed that two of the cashed checks had the same check numbers.
The bank notified the company, which triggered the start of a police investigation that led to three people being charged.
One of the defendants, a Worcester woman, pled guilty to charges of possessing counterfeit notes and was sentenced to one year in jail, while another member of the gang is being held on $5,000 cash bail. A third member of the gang, a 17-year-old female from Boston, was charged in juvenile court.
Police originally charged Roneisha Parham-Rankin, 22, of 6 South Harlem St., Worcester, with seven counts each of possession of counterfeit notes, uttering counterfeit notes, forgery by check and larceny over $250 by check.
At a hearing on Wednesday in Haverhill District Court, Parham-Rankin pled guilty to four counts of possessing counterfeit notes. The remaining charges were dismissed. Judge Stephen Abany sentenced her to 12 months committed, and credited her for 34 days served.
Parham-Rankin was originally arraigned on the charges on Jan. 30. Court officials said Parham-Rankin is facing similar charges in several other courts in Massachusetts as well.
According to court officials, a co-defendant, Joshua Roberts, 21, of Cambridge, was arraigned on similar charges on Nov. 25, 2013, and was ordered held on $5,000 cash bail. His case is pending, court officials said.
According to a police report on file in Haverhill District Court, over a nine day period last November, Parham-Rankin and Roberts, along with the 17-year-old Boston juvenile, cashed seven counterfeit checks totaling $10,268 in the name of Dynawave Inc., a business in Ward Hill.
Haverhill Police Detective William O’Connell noted in his report that during the investigation he obtained several photos of the suspects cashing the checks at three different Pentucket Bank locations in Haverhill. O’Connell said Parham-Rankin, Roberts and the 17-year-old female conspired to cash the counterfeit checks.
According to O’Connell’s report, on Nov. 14, a representative from Pentucket Bank on Lowell Avenue contacted Dynawave’s payroll department and asked why they used two checks with the same check number. Dynawave’s payroll representative said she did not recognize the name of the person whose signature was on one of the checks, which was for $1,246.89.
Police said the signature was that of the 17-year-old Boston juvenile, who told a teller that she had just started working at Dynawave. The bank discovered a total of seven counterfeit checks cashed by Parham-Rankin, Roberts and the 17-year-old juvenile. The biggest check, $2,467.68, was cashed by Roberts, according to O’Connell’s report.
Police said the checks that were cashed were missing the raised logo that appears on official Dynawave company checks.