Counterfeit check cashers given federal prison time

Staff Reports • Dec 17, 2015 at 5:19 PM

A federal judge sentenced two individuals for passing counterfeit checks at businesses across Tennessee, including Lebanon

Angela Stahl was given 14 months and Emanuel Joyce-El 11 months in the appearance before Judge Curtis Collier.

Prosecutors said the pair earlier spent time in state confinement on similar charges.

The investigation began in November 2011 when a loss-prevention associate with Bi-Lo reported Joyce-El and Stahl cashed several counterfeit payroll checks in stores in the Chattanooga area. Checks were also cashed at Food Lion and Piggy Wiggly stores in Chattanooga and in other areas.

The checks were ostensibly drawn on business accounts for Jiffy Lube, Goodwill Industries, Urgent Care - Family Medicine, United Way of Chattanooga, Salvation Army Corp., and Heritage Medical Center.

The pair used Tennessee driver's licenses issued to other individuals' names to cash the checks.

The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office, the Chattanooga Police Department, the Red Bank Police Department and the East Ridge Police Department, as well as the Tennessee Highway Patrol, investigated several similar cases.

Stahl was using five different identities with her photo on each one. She had applied with the Tennessee Division of Motor Vehicles for driver's licenses in the five different names.

Stahl was arrested Jan. 13, 2012, in Gallatin, after she tried to pass a counterfeit check at a Food Lion.

She eventually admitted she had cashed counterfeit checks for the past several months in Chattanooga, Murfreesboro, Lebanon and other areas of Tennessee. She said she was part of a group involving in the operation and another individual manufactured the fake checks.

Joyce-El was arrested in Gallatin on Feb. 22, 2012, after he also tried to pass a counterfeit check at a Food Lion.

Joyce-El said he was involved in a check-cashing ring with seven or eight individuals from the St. Louis area.

He said they would find names of individuals through Craig's List and then find the individuals' Social Security numbers. 

He said grocery stores were the preferred check cashers "because they were very willing to cash checks to attract customers."  

– The Chattanoogan contributed to this report

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