Four Dawson County residents were arrested last week by the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office as part of an alleged check forgery ring.
Chris Bailey, Corey Bailey, Melisa Akins and William Woody, all of Dawson County - have been charged by the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office with one count each of forgery in the first degree.
Donald Johnsey, 34, of Forsyth County, faces four counts of conspiracy to commit forgery in the first degree.
Authorities are looking for a sixth suspect, Chane Hohman, who got away before the others were arrested. He may have taken a bus to Idaho, authorities said.
A Forsyth County jail spokeswoman said Corey Bailey, 19, remains in custody, where Hall County authorities have placed a hold on him.
His brother, 22-year-old Chris Bailey, Akins, 26, and Woody, 27, have been released.
Johnsey is being held without bond.
Forsyth County Sheriff’s Investigator Charles Nicholls said Chris Bailey and Corey Bailey were arrested Feb. 15 at the Chevron Food Mart at Browns Bridge and Keith Bridge roads after an employee reported that they were attempting to cash forged checks.
The sheriff’s office had been investigating complaints of forged checks at the north Forsyth store.
Nicholls said the men had cashed two checks the day before and the business had previously received seven checks returned from the bank as altered or fictitious.
Johnsey was arrested later that day at his Cumming home.
The next morning, Nicholls said, the sheriff’s office arrested Woody and Akins at their home in Dawson County.
Nicholls, who handles financial crimes at the sheriff’s north precinct, said check forgery is a form of identity theft “which of course is the fastest growing crime not just in Georgia, but in America.”
The checks were from an Illinois company. Authorities said information on the checks was altered and “payroll” had been written on the bottom of the checks.
“It was basically set up as a 50-50 split,” Nicholls said. “The people producing the checks were getting half and the people cashing them were getting half.”
Sheriff’s Sgt. Mike McCarron explained that Hohman may have been providing the checks to Johnsey, who then found others to cash them.
Johnsey was also charged with theft by taking in an unrelated case, McCarron said.
The store has lost $3,500 as a result of the forgeries.
“We know of six other checks floating around that we’re going to have to track down,” McCarron said.