Albany Co. Grand Jury Indicts Alleged Ring Leader Of Bad Check Scheme

Attorney General Spitzer and State Police Superintendent Wayne Bennett today announced the indictment of an Albany man for directing a fraudulent check-cashing ring that stole more than $100,000 from area retailers.

Antoine Coleman, 30, was arraigned on December 13 in Supreme Court, Albany County before the Honorable Joseph Teresi, on a 38-count indictment charging him with two counts of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class "C" felony; eight counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class "D" felony; 14 counts of Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, a class "E" felony; and Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class "E" felony. Coleman was also charged with 13 counts of Conspiracy in the Fifth degree, a misdemeanor.

The indictment charges that from February 2003 to July 2004, Coleman recruited and conspired with more than a dozen cohorts as part of a check-writing scheme. The conspirators opened numerous checking accounts, typically with a modest initial deposit, and wrote checks far exceeding that balance to purchase expensive products such as electronics devices, power tools and gift cards. The indictment alleges that Coleman stole over $50,000 each from Home Depot and Wal-Mart. Many other Capital District retail establishments were victimized as well, including Best Buy, Hannaford Brothers and Mooradians Inc.

The defendant was remanded to Albany County jail. The case has been transferred to Albany County Court and will be handled by County Court Judge Thomas Breslin.

The charges against the defendant are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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