, Newburyport, MA

Local News

May 6, 2014

Man held after passing fake checks at local bank

Suspect was part of criminal ring that stole $27,000 from Provident Bank

NEWBURYPORT — A Worcester man, believed to be part of a multi-person criminal enterprise that stole $27,000 from the Provident Bank in Amesbury, was ordered held on $5,000 cash bail yesterday after his arraignment at Newburyport District Court.

Miguel Morales, 45, of 25 Crompton St., was charged last November on two counts of larceny over $250 and uttering a false check (two counts) for allegedly cashing two checks, one at each Amesbury branch of the bank, for about $5,000. He is due back in court May 19 for a pretrial hearing. Should Morales post bail, he was ordered to stay away from all Provident Bank branches.

In addition to its main branch in Market Square, the Provident Bank has another location off Haverhill Road (Route 110) across the street from Cumberland Farms.

Where and when Morales was arrested is unclear, as Amesbury police and an Essex County District Attorney spokeswoman said they didn’t know. A call to the Essex County Sheriff Department’s director of communications wasn’t immediately returned.

Morales was one of five people who allegedly brought checks supposedly belonging to Hampton Ford Hyundai of Hampton, N.H., into the two Provident Bank branches over a two-day span and cashed them for a total of $26,931.

According to an Essex County prosecutor, Morales, who has a long history of arrests for heroin distribution, larceny and breaking and entering, was caught on video surveillance cashing what turned out to be fraudulent checks. Initially, Morales expressed interest in settling the matter inside the courtroom immediately. But that was before prosecutors told Judge Allen Swan they would be seeking jail time for Morales.

The defendant had a quick change of heart and was appointed an attorney by Swan.

Court records show that a Provident Bank official alerted Amesbury police shortly after they reported 10 checks belonging to Hampton Ford Hyundai had been fraudulently cashed. Local police were then contacted by Hampton police indicating the same.

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