Check-cashing scheme draws six-year sentence

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

By Karen Hall

Staff Writer

A man from Nunnelly, Tenn. pleaded guilty last week to five counts of forgery. This represented the Marshall County portion of a check-cashing scheme carried out at several locations in the mid-state.

Aaron R. Holder, 29, told Lewisburg Police Detective James Johnson an acquaintance came to him last year and said he "had a way to make some real money."

This turned out to be a program for printing checks, which he downloaded onto Holder's computer. Then they printed checks, Holder cashed them, and the pair split the money. After some success in the Dickson area, Holder stated they bought a laptop and printer and stayed in hotels in Nashville, printing and cashing checks.

The five checks cashed in Marshall County looked like payroll checks made out to Holder from the Coca Cola Bottling Company. The other man told Holder what stores in Lewisburg to cash them at.

Circuit Court Judge Robert Crigler gave Holder an effective sentence of six years, and ordered him to pay restitution of $1,377.04. The sentence must be served after the completion of any sentences from other counties. Holder has been in jail here for just over three months.

In a separate case, Christopher L. Flynt, 29, of Finley Beech Road, was sentenced to five years in custody after pleading guilty to a series of thefts last year, allegedly made to support his drug habit.

Arguing for the state, Assistant District Attorney Eddie Barnard said, "My job is to protect the citizens of this community. This man has stolen from people's homes. This man needs to be punished."

"This is a hard case," said Public Defender Michael Collins. "He comes from a good family, and he would never have done this if he was not on drugs."

Collins asked the judge to consider a split sentence, but admitted this would be difficult considering Flynt's record, which includes at least three probation violations.

"It's hard to deal with a naked appeal for mercy," Crigler said. "He didn't start getting in trouble until he was 25." The judge denied alternative sentencing, but stated the sentences in all four cases would run at the same time. Flynt must serve at least 30 percent of five years before being eligible for a parole hearing.

"This is probably too lenient," Crigler said. "But maybe this will get his attention.

Meanwhile, William P. Wiles IV, 29, of West End Avenue North, also pleaded guilty to a series of thefts, though no drug connection was stated in his case.

Wiles was also indicted in Bedford County on three counts of theft over $1,000, and will be sentenced there in September.

"The state would take a position that alternative sentencing is not appropriate," said Assistant District Attorney Mike Randles. "He has an extensive record of criminal activity, with two theft convictions in less than a year."

Crigler gave Wiles an effective sentence of two years, and ordered a total of $5,000 restitution paid to the people he stole from.

Wiles took farm equipment, like a hay wagon, and sold it to scrap metal dealers. The items were not recovered, unlike the most of the things taken by Flynt.

Also pleading guilty in Circuit Court last week were:

* Brandon Burns, 21, of Hazel Green, Ala. Burns was charged with selling cocaine to a confidential informant working for the 17th Judicial District Drug Task Force on three different dates in August 2011. One of the sales was of a B Felony amount of crack - more than 0.5 gram - and this resulted in an 11-year sentence, to be served at the same time as two six-year sentences for the smaller sales. Burns must also pay a fine of $6,000.

* Tyrall A. Henderson, 43, of Shelbyville. Henderson was charged with driving after having been declared a Habitual Motor Vehicle Offender, and also with driving under the influence. He must serve 180 days in jail, pay a $3,000 fine, have his driver's license revoked for eight years, complete a drug and alcohol assessment, and attend DUI school. This sentence must be served after the completion of any unexpired sentence from another county.