The Newton County prosecutor’s office has filed multiple felony counts of forgery and identity theft against a man who allegedly has been passing checks stolen in Wichita, Kan.
The man allegedly had been cashing the checks at businesses in the Joplin area using falsified identification.
Joplin police arrested Jeffery L. Hill, 46, on Wednesday afternoon after an investigation that began about a month ago. He was charged Thursday in Newton County with five counts of forgery and a single count of identity theft. He had been charged Nov. 29 in Jasper County with single counts of forgery and stealing leased or rented property.
Police Cpl. Chuck Niess said the investigation of Hill began after a Nov. 7 arrest of Amanda R. Williams, 31, of Joplin, by Duquesne police on a charge of forgery. A check she allegedly passed in Duquesne had been reported stolen from an auto salvage business in Wichita.
Other checks on the same account began turning up at businesses in the Joplin area starting Oct. 31. The businesses included Food 4 Less and May’s Drug Warehouse on the Newton County side of Joplin. Niess said other Joplin businesses that were paid with the stolen checks include Lowe’s, Academy Sports & Outdoors, Harbor Freight Tools and Price Cutter. The checks passed in Joplin alone totaled $4,727.84, he said.
Hill was arrested in November by the Missouri State Highway Patrol and allegedly found in possession of stolen checks. The probable-cause affidavit from the charges in Jasper County alleges that he passed one of the checks to rent a log splitter from Joplin Rental Center on Nov. 3 and never returned the $1,300 piece of equipment.
A separate probable-cause affidavit filed with the charges in Newton County alleges that Hill forged three checks at Food 4 Less on Oct. 31, Nov. 1 and Nov. 26, and two more at May’s Drug Warehouse on Oct. 31 and Nov. 2. Those checks totaled $592.20.
The affidavit alleges that Hill used falsified Kansas driver’s licenses and the Social Security number of a 5-year-old boy to pass the checks. He told police that the false driver’s licenses were created in Kansas, but police determined that they had been produced at an address in Joplin, according to the affidavit.