Crystal Lake police say they have broken up a Florida-based theft and fraud ring that spanned seven states and moved into the Northwest suburbs to continue its crime spree here, police said Thursday.
On Wednesday, police said, they arrested four members of the crime ring, some of them at the Arlington Heights hotel in which they had been staying.
The following were charged with one felony count of forgery: Marcus H. Permenter, 28, of Pompano Beach, Fla.; Shannon F. McGonigle, 29, of Sunrise, Fla.; Jason Mulderig, 30, of Sunrise, Fla. and Jameel M. Little, 34, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
According to a news release: at 10 a.m. Wednesday Crystal Lake police were called to the Chase Bank at 550 Crystal Point Drive for a report of an attempted forgery. Bank staffers told police that McGonigle drove to the bank in a silver Cadillac with Mulderig and tried to cash a forged check for about $2,000 in the drive-through lane.
Bank officials realized the account number was bogus, called police and tried to delay the pair. But by then, McGonigle and Mulderig had already driven off, leaving the check and identification behind.
A Crystal Lake police officer found the car at Route 31 and Route 14, and by that point, two men in the car had replaced McGonigle and Mulderig. One of the men, identified as Permenter, was arrested on charges of having a stolen cellular phone in his possession. Police identified but released a fifth person, while they wait for the McHenry County State's Attorney's office to approve charges against him, Deputy Chief Gene Lawry said.
As police continued their probe, they discovered Permenter, McGonigle and Mulderig were staying at the LaQuinta Inn Hotel in Arlington Heights. During an interview, McGonigle and Mulderig said they were part of a theft and fraud crew from Florida that uses stolen checks, driver's licenses and identification cards to get money, police said.
They also said Permenter gave them the check and told them to cash it at the bank in Crystal Lake. Little refused to talk to police, police said.
Little and Permenter were the brains behind this particular criminal enterprise that ran its scheme in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Ohio, Minnesota, Michigan, and Illinois, Lawry said. Locally, other cases are being developed against the group in Lake and Kendall counties, Lawry said.
The ring worked by recruiting low-level criminals to steal wallets and purses out of motor vehicles in other states, Lawry said. Using the stolen identification, they drove to another state in a rental car and tried to cash the stolen checks. They typically did their banking at drive-up windows and sometimes in disguises to avoid detection, he said.
Lawry estimates the group had been running this racket for several years.
But their luck ran out Wednesday.
"You had some employees who were on the ball, did the right thing and reported it to us," Lawry said. "This case will be reviewed by, I'm sure, multiple agencies."
Bail was set Thursday morning at $30,000 for Permenter and Little and at $25,000 for McGonigle and Mulderig.
They were unable to post 10 percent of those amounts to secure their release while the case is pending and remained in the McHenry County lockup.
They are all due in court Sept. 9. If found guilty of forgery, which in their case is a Class 3 felony, they could spend between two and five years in prison.