By MARY RAINWATER
A Palestine couple remained in the Anderson County Jail Monday after their Friday arrest for forgery, with a connection to over $10,000 in forged checks, credit cards and related items discovered so far.
According to Anderson County Sheriff Greg Taylor, the ACSO began investigating the case on Thursday, when an ASCO employee charged with overseeing the office’s inmate trust fund discovered approximately $600 in unauthorized checks written from the account.
“We started an investigation on the forged checks and were told by Smith County that the suspects, a couple from Palestine, were also suspects in a check forgery case being investigated there in Tyler,” Taylor said. “Sgt. Bryan Chason and our investigators continued working on the case and putting things together.”
A warrant was obtained for the suspects, Billy Don Jones Jr., 49, and his wife Leisa Annette Jones, 47, both of Palestine, and the two were arrested at about noon on Friday at a Palestine motel.
Leisa Jones is charged with felony forgery, with a bond of $100,000 and Jones Jr. was arrested for violation of parole on a no-bond. Forgery will likely be added to Jones Jr.’s charges as well.
A search of the suspects’ operation site Monday uncovered multiple forged checks, credit cards and identification cards as well as a copier printer and other items needed for their operation.
“They (appear to have been) stealing identities and making their own copies of checks from stolen bank accounts,” the sheriff said. “They have been allegedly passing forged checks at Brookshire’s, Walmart stores, O’Reilly’s, JCPenney and Bealls (and others) in Palestine, Tyler, Jacksonville, Mineola and Athens.”
Taylor reported that the investigation of the case is ongoing and would likely reveal other victims of stolen identity and bank accounts.
“Identity theft is still alive and well,” the sheriff said. “It is so important to shred your personal documents and information, to pay attention to bank statements and to be careful on the Internet.
“People just need to be aware.”
Taylor praised his officers for their efforts on the case.
“They did a great job working this case,” he said. “It is good police work.”
Mary Rainwater may be reached via e-mail at email@example.com