The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

January 8, 2013

Prosecutor drops forgery charge in bad-check case

The Jasper County prosecutor’s office has dismissed a forgery charge that remained pending against a Carthage woman who won a $20 million verdict with her husband eight years ago in a popcorn worker’s lawsuit.

Cassandra M. Peoples, 38, was facing the charge in connection with the cashing of checks totaling $1,800 in July 2011 at Hometown Bank in Carthage, making them payable to her employer, Smith Midwest Realty, by using the employer’s stamps on the back of the checks. The checks were written on her U.S. Bank account, which did not hold sufficient funds to cover them, according to a probable-cause affidavit.

The defendant pleaded guilty in September of last year to a felony count of passing a bad check. She was assessed a suspended imposition of sentence on that charge and was ordered to pay $13,421.89 in restitution.

Eventual dismissal of the forgery count was part of that plea agreement.

Eric and Cassandra Peoples won a $20 million verdict in 2004 against International Flavors and Fragrances Inc. and Bush Boake Allen Inc., makers of a butter flavoring used at the popcorn plant in Jasper where Eric Peoples worked. Their lawsuit claimed that he developed an irreversible lung disease from exposure to a chemical in the butter flavoring and that he eventually would need a double-lung transplant.

The couple filed for bankruptcy last year in U.S. District Court in Springfield and put their home up for sale. Court records indicate that they spent about $3.9 million over a five-year period on purchase of the property and construction of the home.