Local News

Eight accused of bilking Cumberland sheriff's office, bank

Posted September 23, 2011 12:26 p.m. EDT
Updated September 26, 2011 6:29 p.m. EDT

— Eight people have been charged with defrauding the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office and a Fayetteville bank, authorities said Friday.

Investigators said the group printed counterfeit checks totaling more than $16,000 against a sheriff’s office account for the Cumberland County Detention Center, beginning in July. The checks were cashed in Fayetteville, Sanford, Lumberton, Clinton, Spring Lake and various other locations in Sampson and Cumberland counties.

"Obviously, they had a very believable face and a believable check," said Debbie Tanna, spokeswoman for the sheriff's office. "It was a very elaborate counterfeit scheme."

The county finance office noticed some strange checks were being paid out at banks and businesses, and they traced the checks to eight people.

The following people were charged with forgery, aiding and abetting to forgery, uttering and obtaining property by false pretense:

  • Toboris Buie, 36, of 101 St. James St. in Raeford
  • Michael Blue, 37, of 2935 Gordon Way in Fayetteville
  • Bruce McKoy, 41, of 6044 Gregory St. in Fayetteville
  • Ronald Thaggard, 25, of 110 Chase St. in Fayetteville
  • Escellia Thompson, 43, of 192 Epps Road in Fayetteville
  • Shanee Burtwell, 28, of Room 129 in Carolina Motor Inn
  • Sadie Ellerbe, 22, of 341 Maloney Drive in Fayetteville
  • Marcus Justin Allen, 22, of 5205 Delco St. in Fayetteville

"We figured out how they did it, and we're going to make darn sure it doesn't happen again," Tanna said, declining to elaborate.

No county employees were involved in the alleged scheme, and the county has insurance, so no taxpayer money will be needed to cover the money lost in the scheme, she said.

Most of those charged have faced forgery or fraud charges previously.

"It wasn't their first day at the rodeo," Tanna said. "Not all criminals are dumb. There are some that are very intelligent in jail. It's unfortunate that they don't take that knowledge and turn it and put it toward something positive."