NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - The Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office and the Highland Park Police Department announced today that 16 people have been arrested and charged with taking part in a scheme to pass bad checks in four central New Jersey counties in an effort to collect more than $100,000 from local banks and check-cashing businesses.
The invesitgation began on August 11, 2015, after five individuals attempted to pass bogus payroll checks at a bank in Highland Park. The arrest of the five initiated a wider investigation that led to the apprehension of eleven other individuals on similar charges at banks and check-cashing businesses in Middlesex, Somerset, Union, and Monmouth Counties. Police departments in Roselle, Linden, Metuchen, and Rahway were also involved, as was the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office and the Union County Prosecutor’s Office.
Bail ranged from $200,000 to $10,000 for the defendants, who were charged with various roles in the scheme between June 30, 2015 to September 29, 2015.
Prosecutor Carey said a number of police agencies participated in the investigation and arrests. He thanked the police departments of Highland Park, Linden, Metuchen, Rahway, and Roselle, as well as the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office and the Union County Prosecutor’s Office.
The investigation by Detective Ted Pardo of the Highland Park Police Department and Detective Ryan Tighe of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office determined that three individuals obtained and prepared bogus pay checks, which were distributed to other individuals who cashed them at the banks and check-cashing businesses.
The three were identified as Ralph Jean-Gilles, 33, and Marcanthony Dorcent, 21, both of Roselle, and Machanley Jules, 28, of Rahway. They each were charged with promoting organized street crime, a first degree offense, and second degree counts of conspiracy to write and distribute bad checks. Bail was set at $200,000 for Jean-Gilles and $100,000 each for Dorcent and Machanley.
In addition, bail was set at $60,000 for Shiraan Singleton, 33, of Roselle, who was charged with a second degree count of conspiracy to write and pass bad checks and a third degree count of promoting prostitution in an incident unrelated to the check scheme.
Individuals charged with third degree counts of passing bad checks and theft by deception were identified as: James Wellington Jr., 48, of Mahwah; Marcel Rose Jr., 41, of Linden; Cheyenne Little, 23, of Elizabeth; Natasha Colon, 25, of Roselle, and Sonnel Santiago, 38, Maria Cancel-Martinez, 27, and Indiana Martinez, 30, all of New Brunswick, and Kamila Price, 21, of Belleville, Michigan.
Diana Rodriguez, 25, of New Brunswick was charged with third degree counts of attempting to pass a bad check, and theft by deception, while Derell Roberts, 31, of Elizabeth, Jahtiah Nix, 24, of Ewing, and Tristin Keck, 25, of Roselle each were charged with a fourth degree count of passing bad checks and a third degree count of theft by deception.
Under state law, the defendants charged with the most serious first-degree crimes could serve between 10 years and 20 years in state prison, if convicted.
The investigation is continuing. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Tighe of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at (732) 745-3300, or Detective Pardo of the Highland Park Police Department at (732) 572-3800.
As is the case with all