theadanews.com - Ada, Oklahoma

June 18, 2013

Local man arrested in alleged fraud at local church

Art Lawler Staff Writer adanewslawler@cableone.net
www.theadanews.com

Ada —

A 24-year-old Ada man has been arrested on suspicion of trying to pass a fraudulent $400 check from the account of a local Sunday school class.

Hector Perez allegedly attempted to cash the check on a Harmony Free Will Baptist Church Sunday school checking account at Tinker Federal Credit Union about 12:30 p.m. Monday.

It was one of several checks police believe Perez cashed on the church’s account in recent days, totaling thousands of dollars.

When Perez saw police coming into the credit union, he made a run for it.

Off-duty police officer Kathy Umbewust, working security at the credit union, used her hand-held radio to call for police assistance. She then ran after — and caught up to — Perez in the grassy area between the credit union and Staples.

Perez told Umbewust he ran because he was  scared of  police. That led to a quick check of police records and the discovery that Perez was also wanted for an outstanding warrant in Pontotoc County.

He was arrested by patrol officer Richard Hubble for that warrant and taken to Pontotoc County Justice Center on the suspicion of “uttering a forged instrument,” which is a felony offense if Perez is found guilty.

Police have since found bogus checks they suspect Perez of cashing under the forged signature of the church’s bookkeeper.  

Special District Judge C. Steven Kessinger signed the affidavit Tuesday by finding that probable cause exists for the arrest and further detention of Perez for the alleged attempt made at the credit union Monday, but police say other charges are pending.

A TFCU employee  tried to verify the validity of the check by phoning Bank of the West,  was told fraud was occurring on the account and to please hold the individual for police.

The account was supposed to have $2,000 from an earlier check, which Perez reportedly  had placed in the night drop on June 6.

Instead of putting it into the account, Perez was advised that a hold was being placed on the check and he needed to pick it up in the next five days.

 Police were informed then, someone had stolen checks on the Harmony Sunday School Class account and a couple of checks had already been cashed on that account.

 At last count, police say checks of $400,  $480, $500, $500, $350 and $350, had been cashed at various Ada businesses.

 The  investigation is ongoing.