Pasco woman jailed for check fraud

Kristin M. Kraemer, Tri-City HeraldDecember 4, 2013 

A Pasco woman was sentenced Wednesday to 20 days in jail for using a former roommate's checks on a closed account to get pizza delivery.

Mynan Michelle Williams, 40, pleaded guilty in Benton County Superior Court to two counts of unlawful issuance of bank checks.

Judge Vic VanderSchoor ordered the jail term with 344 days suspended, and said Williams could do the time on work crew if she qualifies.

Williams must pay $747.11 in restitution to Gesa Credit Union.

According to court documents, a Pizza Hut employee took Williams' call on Oct. 25, 2012, for a delivery to West Albany Court in Kennewick.

The customer said she wanted to pay with a check, but was told she needed another method of payment because the West Deschutes Avenue restaurant had logged previous problems with that delivery address. Williams tried to assure the employee that her check was good and said she didn't live at the apartment, documents said.

The employee -- who both took the phone order and delivered it -- suspected something was wrong when a young girl overheard their conversation at the front door and said she didn't realize that was Williams' name.

That's because Williams said out loud the name of the woman listed on the Gesa check and insisted it was her.

After hearing the odd comment by the young girl, the employee returned to the restaurant and immediately called Gesa to see if the check was legitimate, court documents said.

That same day, Kennewick police Detective Isaac Merkl was contacted by a Gesa fraud investigator about the issued check. The investigator later told Merkl that two more checks came in on the same account, both written to Pizza Hut, documents said.

The account had been closed Sept. 21, 2012.

Merkl then talked to a resident of the Albany Court apartment, who reported knowing Williams was in possession of another person's checks but believed she had them with permission. The resident also reportedly said that Williams had pizza delivered to that Kennewick apartment on multiple occasions and had paid with checks.

Williams, when interviewed by Merkl, claimed she had her former roommate's permission to write the checks, but also admitted that she knew the account was closed when she used the checks, court documents said.

The owner of the checks told police that when she previously lived with Williams, she allowed her roommate to hold her checks during that time. She said she didn't give Williams permission to use them.

Williams originally was charged with one count of forgery.

Deputy Prosecutor Laurel Whittier amended it to two unlawful issuance charges for a plea deal because the state was unable to locate the check owner as the trial date was approaching.

Whittier also said the state has concerns about the victim's credibility since she has a criminal history. The amendment was appropriate for Williams given the circumstances, she said.

-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531; kkraemer@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @KristinMKraemer

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