AUBURN — The leader of an elaborate forgery scheme that involved
writing bogus checks drawn on active bank accounts of the local
sheriff’s office and two local courts will serve about three years
behind bars for the crime.

James Kirk Carver, 27, of Auburn was sentenced in Androscoggin
County Superior Court Friday to nine years in prison with six years

Carver enlisted nine others last year to cash the bogus checks he
made on a computer with bank account numbers from the Androscoggin
County Sheriff’s Department, Androscoggin County Superior Court and
Maine District Court.

He pleaded guilty to a forgery charge in March.

His attorney, Thomas Goodwin, said Friday his client had used the
money gained from the forged checks to buy drugs in an effort to deal
with sexual abuse he suffered as a child.

“He engaged in criminal activity to get drugs to sedate himself,” Goodwin said.

Prosecutors were seeking a sentence in which Carver would serve five years in prison.

“He has a history of antisocial behavior that has harmed a lot of people,” Deputy District Attorney Craig Turner said.

Goodwin asked that his client serve two years. Justice Thomas Warren said
anything less than three years would “diminish the gravity of the
offense” and called his conduct “egregious.”

Warren said Carver needed treatment, not only for substance abuse, but for psychological problems as well.

“I am accepting that he has legitimate and not fake psychological
issues stemming from what happened in his youth,” Warren said.

Goodwin said the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Department was conducting an investigation into the alleged abuse.

Carver, dressed in a bright orange jail suit, told the judge, “I
know what I did was wrong.” He said he wanted to get into
treatment as soon as he was released from prison. His voice broke, and
he sniffed back tears.

Justice Warren ordered Carver to pay $2,000 restitution to the
banks that got stuck with the bad checks. He also must pay $3,000
restitution on two unrelated theft charges. For those felonies, he was
sentenced to five years with all but three years suspended. He’ll serve
that sentence at the same time as the forgery conviction.  

The scheme involved more than $40,000 in bogus checks cashed or attempted to be cashed at local banks.

The sheriff’s account contained Androscoggin County Jail inmates’ money
banked at the time of their bookings. The fake court checks were
written on accounts to which a defendant’s bail was paid and refunded,
but contained no taxpayer money.

On May 28, 2008, the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Department pieced together
the elements of the scheme after a manager at the Bank of America
branch on Lisbon Street in Lewiston called to report a man and woman
had tried to cash a check for $2,000 on an account from the Sheriff’s
Department’s Inmate Disbursement Account.

Sheriff’s Department Detective Sgt. William Gagne met with the bank
manager, who showed him the check and said the man showed a
Massachusetts driver’s license when asked for identification. The
manager issued a “fraud” alert to other banks.

Gagne noticed the word “sheriff” was misspelled “shiriff” and instead
of reading “Turner Street,” the address on the check read “Turnner st.”

The term “fine overpayments” appeared in the memo line of the check,
but that wasn’t the purpose of that bank account, Gagne wrote in court

When the bogus check was compared to actual checks held by the
sheriff’s officer in charge of that account, the bogus one was tan, in
contrast to the real checks, which were a different color, Gagne wrote.

In an SUV driven by Carver’s girlfriend, Ashley Banville, 23, of
Auburn, police found a laptop computer and printer with a blank check
still in it that matched the bogus ones cashed at local banks. Police
also found generic blank checks from an office supply store.

Banville sat in the courtroom during Friday’s sentencing.

Turner said last spring that Carver printed the counterfeit checks, then recruited others to
cash the checks at local TD Banknorth and Bank of America branches.
Carver would keep most of the money and share a small portion with
the check cashers. Carver apparently used the money to
support a drug habit. Syringes and heroin test kits were found in the

Most of the others who pleaded guilty to felonies in connection with
the forgery ring agreed to sentences of three years in prison with most
of that time suspended, Turner said Friday. All served some time in jail,
received probation and were ordered to pay restitution.

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