Lexington, KSP focus on counterfeit check racket

Lexington police say they are working with other agencies to thwart an out-of-state counterfeit check cashing ring that has robbed Kentucky banks of about $40,000.

Investigators started working together after counterfeit checks in amounts of more than $900 were cashed in Lexington, Georgetown, Shelbyville, Mount Sterling, Nicholasville, Somerset and Winchester, police said.

Lexington police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said Lexington police have talked to agencies in Iowa and Arkansas about "some similar activity there."

Roberts could not comment on whether federal agencies were investigating. David Beyer, a spokesman for the Louisville office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said he could neither confirm nor deny it.

On Monday, Lexington police released information about four women accused of cashing forged checks using false identification cards.

Two of those women were arrested in Scott County later in the day. Alexis Ramos, 19, and Vanessa Regalado, 21, are being held in the Scott County jail, police said.

Ramos was pulled over with 50 counterfeit checks in her car, police said. Regalado was arrested at a convenience store after an officer identified her, Roberts said.

Two others who were in a car with Ramos were arrested as well. Jacqueline R. Barnes, 22, and Marcus L. Jones, 23, face related charges, Georgetown police said.

Roberts said Lexington police are not sure whether Barnes and Jones are part of the check-cashing ring or were just at the wrong place at the wrong time.

"They just got arrested just because they were with her. We don't believe they were caught up in this scam ... but we're not sure," she said.

Two of the four arrested in Georgetown had tried to cash a forged check at Whitaker Bank, Georgetown police Capt. Scott Starns said.

An arrest in Pulaski County several days ago is believed to be tied to the case. Roberts said Dominique Bell was arrested in Somerset and found to have a false ID. Somerset police could not be reached for comment.

At least two other women using false Kentucky ID cards in the names of Sade Easley and Tiffany Scott are still at large. Roberts said police did not know their whereabouts or real names.

In Georgetown, Regalado, Barnes and Ramos pleaded not guilty to 50 counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and are being held at the Scott County jail on $10,000 bond. Jones was charged with tampering with physical evidence and is being held on $5,000, Scott County Chief Deputy Tim Sams said. They will go to court again on March 16.