Bail was set at $50,000 yesterday for four Baltimore men accused of using out-of-state counterfeit checks to pay for nearly $1,400 in merchandise -- ranging from videocassette recorders to stuffed bears -- at Westminster shops.
The source of the computer-generated checks and false identification allegedly used by the men was being sought with U.S. Secret Service assistance, said Lt. Dean A. Brewer, a Westminster Police Department spokesman. The checks and a driver's license did not appear to represent actual people or bank accounts, Brewer said.
Each defendant was arrested on 49 charges, including multiple counts of counterfeiting, theft, bad checks and conspiracy, Brewer said.
The incident began Tuesday evening when a manager at Toy Works in Cranberry Square called Westminster police about a suspected bad check, Brewer said. The caller said three people had purchased items with a check drawn on a Texas bank, using a Texas driver's license that appeared to have been altered.
Police broadcast an alert for a white car with Pennsylvania license plates, which was spotted at the nearby Crossroads Square shopping center at Routes 140 and 97. After a brief surveillance, three men approached the car. Two were arrested, but one fled and was being sought last night.
A search of the car found $1,225 in merchandise from six area stores, police said. Also seized were 28 counterfeit checks, $230 in cash, and false identification.
Two more suspects were identified at the nearby Lone Star restaurant by an employee of another store, Brewer said. The suspects drove briefly on Route 140 before being apprehended.
The four arrested men are Eric Orlando Glaspie, 20, and Kevin Jermaine Byrd, 24, both of the 5000 block of Goodnow Road; Norman Moore, 35, of the 3000 block of Ridgewood Ave.; and Michael Antonio Branch, 32, of the 1500 block of Kennewick Road.
Checks were made out from banks in Fort Worth and Watauga, Texas, and from Kansas and Florida, according to charging documents.
The checks amounted to less than $300 each and were used for purchases at several stores, including Target, Sunny's, the Toy Works, Babbage's Software, and Cards, Candy & More -- where at least four stuffed Breezy Bears were purchased.
Other items listed in the court record included an electric blanket, pager, electronic games and CDs, an answering system, work boots, toy railroad set and rotisserie -- for a total of $1,383, before tax.
Pub Date: 1/21/99