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'First lieutenant' in alleged check fraud scheme is arraigned

A Niagara Falls woman pleaded not guilty in State Supreme Court Tuesday to an indictment accusing her of playing a key role in a "criminal enterprise" that allegedly printed and deposited counterfeit checks using the account numbers on checks stolen last year from mailboxes in Niagara County and elsewhere.

Assistant District Attorney John N. Philipps called Tasheen N. Dillard, 38, of 21st Street, the "first lieutenant, second in command" to Victor E. Johnson, 51, of the Falls, who pleaded not guilty June 11.

Philipps said Dillard's alleged role was to "act as an intermediary with lower-level people" in the operation, such as Davantae R. Clark, 22, of Works Place, Lockport, who was indicted last week. Philipps said the operation's total take and other potential suspects still are being investigated.

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