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AWOL reservist connected to bad check scheme

An AWOL Army reservist is accused of a bad check scheme that duped dozens of people in Erie and Niagara counties, Town of Tonawanda police said.

Steven D. Burns, 21, of Sanborn is charged with petit larceny and issuing a bad check, according to Lt. Nicholas A. Bado.

Burns, who was arrested Monday, cashed $300 in personal checks on his closed account at a town bank, Bado said. Each time he visited a bank, Burns wore his uniform and claimed he needed the cash immediately because he was being deployed overseas in a few days, authorities added.

Tellers, sympathetic toward his plight, accommodated Burns and gave him cash, Bado said.

Burns is absent without leave from his reserve unit, Bado said. Detectives said he has commited the fraud on at least 30 occasions. The Secret Service also is investigating.

Following arraignment in town court, Burns remains in the Erie County Holding Center in lieu of $5,000 bail.