DeFuniak man sentenced for stealing checks
PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - A DeFuniak Springs man is expected to serve almost 4 years in prison after pleading guilty to mail and bank fraud, and identity theft.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, between March and July 2019, 43-year-old Charlie James Rhodes drove around Fort Walton Beach neighborhoods and looked for mailbox flags that were raised, indicating outgoing mail.
Documents showed Rhodes would then steal the mail, look for personal checks the homeowner made, wash the checks, make himself or another alias the payee, and increase the amount on the check.
He would then take the checks to a local bank and cash them.
With this pattern, prosecutors say Rhodes stole at least 30 checks, for a loss amount over $35,000.
Officials say many victims of this scheme were the elderly.
From 2019 to 2022, Rhodes served time in Alabama for a similar crime. When he was arrested in Enterprise in Alabama, law enforcement found he had several checks in his car to be cashed, some from Okaloosa County residents.
Along with his served time, Rhodes will serve three years of supervised release, and ordered him to pay $6,727 in restitution.
This case was investigated by the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office and the United States Postal Inspection Service
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