Two Mobile residents plead guilty to stealing more than $95,000 in bank fraud scheme

Published: Dec. 5, 2022 at 4:45 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 5, 2022 at 9:30 PM CST
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - Two people pleaded guilty Monday to a scheme to defraud banks and credit unions through a series of stolen and forged checks, driver’s licenses and other phony documents.

According to court records, the defendants operated from at least December of last year to May in the Mobile area. Pleading guilty in U.S. District Court were Jonathan Earl Kyser, 21, of Mobile, and Danquile Nakricia Westbrook, 20, of Mobile. They are among a dozen people named in the federal indictment.

Kyser admitted that he and others defrauded more than 10 victims to the tune of $95,000 to $150,000.

Kyser’s written plea agreement indicates that the defendants and others deposited counterfeit and forged checks at automated teller machines and then made unlawful withdrawals.

Federal investigators began looking into allegations that someone had stolen six checks that an Iberia Bank customer had placed in a business’s outgoing mailbox in early December 2021 on Grelot Road. The thieves altered the checks and used them as templates to create additional counterfeit checks, according to Kyser’s plea agreement.

Later, federal investigators learned that a Mobile police officer encountered Kyser getting out of a car on Baltimore Street the previous month. He had a backpack and smelled of marijuana, according to the plea document.

A search for weapons revealed Kyser had a Glock pistol in his jacket pocket and 10 grams of marijuana in his pants pocket, the plea agreement states. The document indicates that officers also found a book of blank checks, a computer, two bank cards that did not belong to Kyser and a notebook containing entries such as, “don’t do mobile deposits,” “find a logo and download it” and “email/account info delete.”

Kyser admitted in his guilty plea that he produced counterfeit checks. His laptop contained hundreds of images of bank and business logos, blank checks, signatures and other documents.

Kyser admitted to regularly exchanging Facebook messages with Gardner about the fraud scheme. In one example listed in court documents, co-defendant Arrington Jaylun Gardner sent Kyser the login information for the Regions Bank account of co-defendant Justin Deandre Betties, who later received counterfeit check deposits.

Gardner is scheduled to plead guilty on Tuesday, while Betties is set to go on trial during the February term.

Kyser admitted that he would transfer illicit proceeds to Gardner’s girlfriend, Markisha Jakeria Johnson, via CashApp. Johnson pleaded guilty last month.

Several ATM surveillance cameras captured Kyser depositing stolen and altered checks. A surveillance image included in his plea agreement shows him at an ATM in D’Iberville, Mississippi, depositing $27,225 drawn on a Whitney National Bank account of a hydraulics business in Mobile.

Kyser’s devices had dozens of images of checks that had been stolen from the mail in Mobile, according to the plea document.

A total of seven defendants so far have pleaded guilty. In addition to Kyser, Westbrook, Johnson, the others are Barbara Jackson, Jimmy Dejuan Parnell, Kenessa Denise Hackworth and Calvin Davis. Those defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on March 9.

The maximum penalty is 30 years in prison, but prosecutors have agreed to recommend leniency for defendants who accept criminal responsibility.

pulled over a car the previous month on Baltimore Street. During that stop, police noted the Kyser noted

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