U.S. Federal Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles. Photo by John Schreiber.
U.S. Federal Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles. Photo by John Schreiber.

A 53-year-old Los Angeles woman pleaded guilty Thursday to a federal conspiracy charge stemming from a phony check scheme that defrauded financial institutions throughout the Southland.

Connie Skipper faces up to five years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release when sentenced Jan. 5, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kerry L. Quinn said.

According to her plea agreement, Skipper and a co-defendant cashed forged checks using stolen identification at more than a dozen banks in Calabasas, West Hollywood, Aliso Viejo and elsewhere from 2007 through 2009.

By presenting bank tellers with stolen driver’s licenses and other forms of illegally obtained identification, the pair attempted to cash about $48,000 in phony checks, causing losses of more than $36,000, Quinn said, adding that checks were burglarized from postal collection boxes and victims’ homes and vehicles.

In some instances, once the checks were stolen, the defendants “washed” or erased the original amount and payee, and then substituted a different amount and a different payee, according to court papers.

The defendants also created forged checks using account information obtained from stolen checks, then presented the counterfeits for payment at various banks.

Skipper and Thomas Salyers were charged last year in a 20-count federal indictment alleging conspiracy, identity theft and bank fraud.

An Oct. 20 motions hearing is set for Salyers in which the government is expected to argue that evidence of a prior check fraud conviction should be admitted at trial.

City News Service

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