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Nine plead guilty in check-cashing scheme

Nine people have pleaded guilty to crimes connected to a check-cashing scheme that took tens of thousands of dollars from area banks.

The Erie County District Attorney’s Office says the defendants, described as homeless, indigent or drug-addicted, were recruited by out-of-town criminals. The leaders used their names to forge counterfeit checks ranging from $2,000 to $5,000 that were cashed at banks in Erie County. The defendants received a small share of the money for their part in the fraud, which investigators believe began in November. The total value of the checks is more than $52,000.

Charged with various counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument are: Robert Byers, 48, and Anthony Gulnac, 27, both of Tonawanda; John Pasinski, 34, of Springville; and Lindsey Ketch, 25, Timothy Budek, 39, Robert Jones, 46, Amanda McClain, 35, Lawrence Foggie, 58, and Demetrius Calhoun, 44, all of Buffalo.

Assistant District Attorneys Candace K. Vogel and Gary M. Ertel are prosecuting the case.

Amherst Police Detectives John Trabert and Robert Cunningham investigated the fraud and ask anyone with information about the out-of-town ringleaders to call Amherst Police at 689-1322.