Plea to $100K payroll forgeries to draw 3 years

A man accused of directing a payroll check-cashing scheme that eventually bilked Price Chopper out o

A man accused of directing a payroll check-cashing scheme that eventually bilked Price Chopper out of more than $100,000 and has led to the arrest of more than four dozen others admitted to his role in the case Thursday.

Shardar Tisdale appeared in U.S. District Court in Albany and pleaded guilty to a charge related to conspiracy to commit check forgery and to check forgery.

Tisdale is to be sentenced in December to up to 3 years, 5 months in federal prison.

According to his plea agreement, Tisdale admitted to directing the counterfeit check conspiracy between December 2010 and June 2012. Tisdale prepared counterfeit checks, distributed them and then recruited individuals to cash the checks, according to the plea agreement. Tisdale also drove some individuals to the stores, giving them a small cut of the proceeds. Those recruited had to have Price Chopper AdvantEdge cards.

Each forged payroll check was less than $950, with the total amount taken believed to be over $100,000. The scheme targeted Price Choppers including stores in Schenectady, Latham, Troy, Albany, Menands, Glenville and Glenmont, according to the plea agreement.

Tisdale must repay Price Chopper just under $125,000 and Citizens Bank $4,300, according to the agreement.

Tisdale admitted to providing an individual with counterfeit payroll checks made out to several individuals between May 10 and May 19, 2011. The individuals named then cashed the checks at the stores. Tisdale received the proceeds.

In August 2011, Tisdale again produced forged payroll checks that were cashed, with the proceeds returned to him.

Tisdale is represented by attorney Kevin Luibrand and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Grogan.

In all, checks were forged using the names of 40 different businesses or agencies locally, among them Schenectady County and the New York State Department of Tax and Finance.

Aided by the AdvantEdge card information, authorities have arrested or are seeking each of those who participated in the scheme. The number of arrests has topped 50, each facing a felony. More arrests are expected.

The cases of those accused of cashing the checks are being handled in Schenectady County Court. Tisdale’s case and the case of another man, Rhakim Atkins, were handled in federal court.

Atkins was sentenced earlier this month to time served, 317 days, for his role. He was also ordered to repay $61,294 to Price Chopper. Atkins admitted that he helped enlist individuals to cash the checks and helped them do it.

Price Chopper’s fraud investigator first brought evidence of the scheme to the U.S. Secret Service in April 2011.

He was initially probing a forged payroll check from a McDonald’s located in Brunswick that was cashed at one of the supermarkets.

The discovery tipped the Price Chopper investigator off to a broader pattern. His probe identified roughly 70 people who had cashed one or more phony paychecks.

Categories: Business, Schenectady County

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