On Wednesday, December 1, 2010, Deonta Dudley of Branson (d.o.b. 10/31/1974), entered pleas of guilty in two separate forgery cases. Both forgery cases stemmed from forged signatures on stolen checks that were presented to local banks for cash or deposit.

Dudley’s cases had been scheduled for jury trial on Monday, December 6, 2010.

In one case, the victim reported that on Monday, Jan 25, 2010, sometime in the afternoon , she was getting ready to leave her office and noticed her wallet was not in her purse. On that same day, a teller at a Bank of America drive-through window, assisted a woman in a dark colored mini-van who wanted to deposit a check into her checking account. The teller explained that the woman was a well known customer with the bank. The check she sent through for deposit was endorsed to Deonta Dudley. The teller received Deonta Dudley’s identification, wrote the information on the back of the check and deposited the money in the woman’s account as requested.

In the other case, the victim reported that checks had been left on a computer desk at his residence, and that he did not know when the checks had been taken. A teller at Great Southern Bank reported that Deonta Dudley entered the bank and attempted to cash a check, and that she recognized Dudley’s name as one from a fraud alert. The teller was suspicious of the check Dudley was trying to pass and she took it to be faxed to loss prevention for verification. During this time, Dudley became nervous and explained he was going to his car to get his baby. Dudley left the bank and did not return, leaving the check – along with his Missouri driver’s license – behind with the teller. The victim stated that he did not give permission to Dudley to sign his signature on the stolen check.

“My hope is that our citizens will be vigilant about maintaining control over financial information, including checks,” said Taney County Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Merrell. “Predators like Deonta Dudley, and his known associates, are constantly on the lookout for opportunities to obtain checks to forge and pass. Know where your checks are at, and keep them secured away when you are not using them.”

Forgery is a class C felony, which normally carries a range of punishment not to exceed seven (7) years in prison. However, Dudley was charged as a prior and persistent felony offender by the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office, which increased the possible maximum sentence to fifteen (15) years. Dudley was sentenced, by agreement, to ten (10) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections.