Alleged Ringleader Of Local Check Cashing Scheme Is Charged

Modified: November 25, 2016 3:41pm

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Acting Erie County District Attorney Michael J. Flaherty, Jr. announces that 31-year-old Robert Haggins of Atlanta, Georgia has been arraigned before State Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia on a 29-count indictment accusing him of orchestrating a check cashing scheme in the Buffalo area that netted more than $52,000.

Haggins has been charged with one count of Scheme To Defraud in the First Degree, 24 counts of Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree and four counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree.

Haggins is accused of recruiting nine local men and women, many of them homeless or drug addicted, to use their names on forged, counterfeit checks to be cashed at banks all across Erie County. The check amounts ranged from $2,000 to $5,000, and a small portion of the money was given after the transactions to those he allegedly recruited to cash the checks.

According to the indictment, from November 2015 until May 2016, the defendant offered approximately 36 checks to be cashed with the loss to local banks totaling more than $52,000.

If convicted of the charges, Haggins faces up to 25 years in prison. He pleaded not guilty and was remanded to jail without bail.

In May, the nine indigent people Haggins allegedly recruited pleaded guilty to several counts of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument and have been sentenced.

Acting DA Flaherty commends Amherst Police Detectives John Trabert and Robert Cunningham for their diligence in this investigation.

“Detectives Trabert and Cunningham worked so diligently in tracing these fraudulent checks back to the defendant, “ says acting DA Flaherty. “This was a complicated investigation, but they were able to find the evidence necessary to charge this defendant.”

Candace K. Vogel, Chief of DA Flaherty’s Special Investigations and Prosecutions Bureau and Assistant District Attorney Gary M. Ertel are prosecuting the case.

As are all persons accused of a crime, the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.