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For the first time I'm seriously considering suicide.

  1. Dec 8, 2004 #1
    I've been collecting sports cards for about 15 or 20 years. I was at a garage sale 3 or 4 years ago and bought a big box full of cards. I think I paid around twenty dollars for the box full. Most of the cards weren’t worth anything, but there were a bunch of ’86-’87 Fleer Basketball cards. One of them was Michael Jordan’s rookie card, worth between $400-800. Every card in this series is worth at least a dollar and most are quite a bit more because nobody made basketball cards for several years and this was the first set so there were a lot of rookie cards. I framed the Jordan rookie and put the rest into a nice folder with individual sleeves for each card.
    Jon Moreno was a man who had grown up and gone to school with my girlfriend at the time. I didn’t know him that well, but I had met him quite a few times and my girlfriend had brought him inside our apartment. One day he saw the Jordan card and I took it down and showed it to him. He said he had a brother who collected sports cards too. He said his brother even had his own card. His brother had been a star on the ASU baseball team but hadn’t gone pro and now he was a college coach and professor.
    I offered to give Jon a good deal if he wanted to buy the card for his brother, but he didn’t have any money so I kept the cards.
    I didn’t see Jon much after that, that I can remember, and my girlfriend and I split up and moved out of the apartment. I moved into the apartment next door and lived there for about a month or so.
    One day I just happened to be outside and Jon drove up to my old apartment. He saw me and asked if I was still with my ex, he was looking for her. I said no and he started to leave then he turned around and asked me if I still had the Jordan card and how much I’d sell it for if I did. I told him $300 and I’d give him an even better deal on the rest of the series and a bunch of duplicates. I can’t remember if I said $300 or $400 for the others. He said he’d try to sell them to his brother and either call or come back later. I told him my phone number and he left.
    Later that same day he called and said his brother wanted the Jordan rookie. He wanted to come and get the card and take it to his brother, but I said I needed the money first. He said his brother wouldn’t give him the cash without seeing the card. I offered to bring the card to his brother, but Jon said no. (I assumed he didn’t want me to meet his brother because he was trying to make a profit by telling his brother a higher price)
    We hung up and he called back a few minutes later and asked if I would take a check. I said I would have to cash it first before I’d give him the card. We agreed to meet at the place where I had cashed my paychecks in the past. He was already there when I got there. He gave me a check and said that everything over $300 was his. I took the check and glanced at it as I went inside. I saw that it was made out to me for four hundred and something dollars and I noticed the name of the college in the corner. I thought it was his brother’s credit union at the school. I only had the check in my hand for the 10 seconds it takes to walk up to the teller and I had to look where I was going as I walked so I really didn’t look at the check for more than 1 or 2 seconds. I handed the teller the check and my ID. I signed my name on the back and put my fingerprint on it. The teller took the check into the back and I don’t know what she did back there. Normally I think they call whoever wrote the check, but I had a history with cashing my checks there so they knew I was honest. A little while later she came out from the back and handed me the money. I put $300 in my pocket and gave the Jordan card and the rest of the money to Jon. Then we both got into our separate vehicles and left.
    One or two days later Jon called me again and said his brother wanted the rest of the set. I said okay and we went through the same thing as before. We met at the check cashing place, everything went fine. Jon got more money this time, but I had already committed to the original price, (300-400) so he got the rest.
    After he got the cards I never saw or heard from him again. For the next year or so I only thought about the cards when I saw Michael Jordan on TV. I wished I still had the cards, but I never thought twice about there being a problem with the checks.
    I never heard a thing until one day I was arrested and told that there was a felony warrant for my arrest. I couldn’t believe it, and even the officer who arrested me told me that he hears a lot of stories from the people he arrests, and can tell when someone is lying to him. He said that it was obvious that I didn’t have any idea why I was being arrested and he hoped I could get everything straightened up when I saw the judge. Everything didn’t get straightened out though and I spent the next two weeks in jail. I lost my job and only got out a few days before I had to go to my daughter’s custody trial. I would have gotten custody of my daughter because I had had a job and an apartment and wasn’t in any trouble with the law, but because of this case I went to court without a job and with a felony case in progress.
    When I got out after those two weeks I started trying to track down Jon Moreno. I asked a few people who knew him, but they didn’t know where he was. I also got online and did a Google search and came up with a newspaper article about him. I also searched the court records and found out that Jon has several felony cases, including the following: CR2002-099444(Forgery), CR2002-095026 (Forgery), CR2002-095017 (Forgery), CR2002-099761 (Identity Theft), CR2001-095011 (Forgery). Jon had been in custody, but was released to attend his son’s funeral. He was only supposed to be out of jail for 1 or 2 days then turn himself back in. He never went back to the jail and nobody knows where he was for quite a while. He and his wife went on the run and eventually went all the way to Maine. According to the newspaper article I found Jon got a job with a cleaning company in mid-October and worked there for two-weeks. Sometime in mid November forged checks started to pile up in the banks and in mid December Jon and his wife were caught.
    I know Jon was in Mesa during the first week of October, because that’s when he bought the cards from me. Further proof is that one of the accounts he was caught forging in Maine was Arizona’s Unemployment Offices and that a check from them had been stolen out of a mailbox here in Arizona around the beginning of October. The article also talks about how Jon was printing up checks on his computer and going out and buying things with them. This is exactly what he did to me. It was just a coincidence that he ran into me that day, but took advantage of it and got some very valuable sports cards and enough money to allow him to move to Maine.
    I told all this to my first public defender and he said I have a good case and he would put me on the stand to testify. Then on the day of the trial the judge discovered a problem with the paperwork. The case was dismissed and I was told that if charges were refilled I would be getting a notice in the mail.
    A year went by without my hearing anything further. I was able to get a very good job as a Surveyor for Azca Engineering. I quickly became a crew chief, got a company truck, a company phone and several raises nearly doubling my starting salary. Then one day I got pulled over and arrested on these same charges. Nobody ever sent me a letter or anything. I had to sit in jail again for over a week before I saw the judge and he let me out. Luckily my boss likes me and he didn’t fire me. I wasn’t trying to do anything illegal, and I thought I was protecting myself by demanding that I get the checks cashed before I handed over any cards. I was only worried about there not being enough money in the account, I never considered that the checks might be bad.
    I was assigned a new public defender this time around and she doesn’t even want to hear my story. She says I should have taken the plea for 1 ½ years in prison instead of taking it to trial, but I just can’t fathom going to jail because of all this. I was fooled just like hundreds of other people Jon has done this to.
    Today I went to court and was offered 6 months or take it to trial and risk getting 4.5 years. I am in shock. The thing that bothers me the most is that nobody has ever asked me what my story is. All anyone knows is bad check-my signature. I even offered to pay back the money, then try to get it back in a civil court. My lawyer said no because that looks like an admission of guilt. My boss offered to pay the money back if it meant I could keep working.
    Public Defenders suck, and I just don’t have a retainer of $7500-15000 for a real lawyer. I know I’m supposed to be funny, but this sucks. I’m not going to go to jail.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 8, 2004 #2

    Les Sleeth

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    Wow, I think I'd be tempted to send my local media that story.
     
  4. Dec 8, 2004 #3

    Moonbear

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    You know, not a bad idea Les. Include the name of the public defender. What about the original public defender who believed your case and knew what it was all about? Can you still find him? Even if you can't hire him, maybe you can talk to him and see if he can send his records over to your new P.D.
     
  5. Dec 8, 2004 #4
    That's awful. I really hope this works out for you. There's got to be a couple of lawyers on these boards that can help somehow? Media coverage would be a good idea however, seeing as it'll recieve enough attention to make people look at your side. People will protest, as it's quite touching.
     
  6. Dec 8, 2004 #5
    Fight the system tribdog!! Use the media, get people to appeal for you! Fire your public defender and demand a new one (can you do that there?), you don't deserve to go to jail.
     
  7. Dec 8, 2004 #6
    :surprised :surprised

    Yeah i would definitely request a new public defender, especially try to get the old if you can. We're rootin for ya.
     
  8. Dec 8, 2004 #7
  9. Dec 8, 2004 #8
    Courts make decisions by process of stare decisis (let the decision stand) or precedent . If you could cite previous related cases in front of the judge and convince him that you are the victim, good luck. This requires a lot of research on your part
     
  10. Dec 8, 2004 #9

    Moonbear

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    Ooh, can we roast him over an open fire? After hearing that story, I'm kind of fond of the thought of shoving the bbq spit through him. The lost money is one thing, but to lose custody of your daughter over it, that man deserves to go to Hell...darn, now I have to start believing in a Heaven and Hell, but it's worth it if that guy can get sent there for this! :mad:
     
  11. Dec 8, 2004 #10
    Were you not brought before a judge for initial appearance within 24 hours following the arrest?
     
  12. Dec 8, 2004 #11

    Astronuc

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    I am not sure if there is an alternative to PD - but I was thinking perhaps you could try the ACLU.

    Definitely email the local newspaper and perhaps papers in Flagstaff and Phoenix. Too many people who cannot afford a high-priced lawyer get railroaded.

    I would hope that your attorney asks the DA's office for the evidence. Presumably, the check still has Moreno's fingerprints, and this supports your story. If they cannot present evidence, it may be grounds to dismiss the case. A bank photocopy of the check is not evidence.

    Now how does the Pledge of Allegiance end . . .

    With Liberty and Justice for All,

    and we need to make that so.
     
  13. Dec 8, 2004 #12

    Moonbear

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    Who knows, if you get a story in the paper, maybe a better lawyer will see your story and do the work pro bono just to get a little free media coverage for their firm! Or you might get some donations to help pay for a better lawyer.

    I second that. While your thumbprint is the most obvious, there ought to be other fingerprints on the check. Did anyone witness you give the cards to Moreno? That would help, to show you weren't just taking a cut of the cash for yourself, but really thought he was paying you for merchandise.

    If he had paid you with counterfeit cash, you'd be considered a victim, but because it's a check, you're an accessory (I assume they're bringing you up on accessory charges, not on the forgery itself). Get a handwriting expert to examine the check, see if they can make the comparison with some of Moreno's known forgeries and show that it wasn't you who wrote the check. They also have to prove that you were knowingly involved. What are they using as evidence that you knew you were helping someone commit forgery? They can't have anything since it doesn't exist, but you need to make sure you have a lawyer who is going to make that clear, you didn't know he was giving you a forged check and there is no evidence to show you did know it.

    In the other cases where Moreno forged checks, what happened to the people who was paid with the checks? Were any others charged like this? Were any others duped like you were? Scour all the charges and see if you can talk to the DA's in charge of those cases. You might be able to establish the pattern of fraud is not unique to you, just you happened to use a check cashing service instead of a bank. Had the check cashing place done their job right and verified the check before cashing it, they could have had that guy arrested on the scene, and it wouldn't have taken you a year to learn a crime had been committed and that you were being charged with it.

    I wish you much luck in getting this resolved!
     
  14. Dec 8, 2004 #13

    Gokul43201

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    Will your ex testify that she introduced Moreno to you ?
     
  15. Dec 8, 2004 #14

    JasonRox

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    Move to Canada?

    It's real laid back here.

    They would give you community service for something that small.
     
  16. Dec 8, 2004 #15

    Moonbear

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    From what he describes though, he shouldn't have to do ANYTHING! He was duped.

    Here's a discussion on a variation of the 419 scams that's actually disturbingly similar to what this Moreno guy did you to tribdog, except he got you in person.

    http://www.netscams.com/Forum/YaBB.cgi?board=news;action=display;num=1070946952

    They overpay for some merchandise advertised online using a forged cashiers check, saying they included some extra to cover any additional fees, and instructing the seller to wire back anything over that.

    This might be helpful if you can find more on this. It sets precedent for showing this is a known scam just like what happened to you, and it makes you the victim, not the criminal.

    Just found another site on this...from the Iowa Attorney General's office!
    http://www.state.ia.us/government/ag/consumer/advisories/Nigeria_Mar_2003.html

    I know you're in AZ and not IA, but since their AG's office is aware of this type of scam, maybe they can help your public defender gather the necessary evidence to get the charges against you dismissed. Maybe it will at least get your public defender's attention if you bring her a print-out of that page.

    Found another news story about similar victims in PA.
    http://www.tristatenews.com/cgi-bin/articles/exec/view.pl?archive=6&num=983

    The only difference that I can really see is that these victims used their own banks to cash the checks, so as soon as the check was found to be counterfeit, the bank held this folks responsible for the amount due, rather than a check cashing service filing charges against you rather than notifying you the check was a forgery and expecting repayment. Had they asked you for the money back when they discovered the fraud, and you paid them, you'd be the one pressing the charges against Moreno, not being charged.
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2004
  17. Dec 8, 2004 #16
    uhhhh? I dont know about you guys, but I swear I have read this story before. Maybe I'm wrong!?!
     
  18. Dec 8, 2004 #17
    are you suggesting tribdog is trolling? :rolleyes:
     
  19. Dec 8, 2004 #18

    Evo

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    Unfortunately for tribdog, the "justice" system here just doesn't care. It doesn't matter if you're innocent. You are guilty by association. The crime is too petty to attract media attention. Most court appointed attorneys are worthless because they have too many cases to keep track of what's going on. (I've dated a number of attorneys, I've heard too many horror stories).

    Trib, would the check cashing place involved be willing to drop charges if you paid them plus a fee? If they drop the charges, there is nothing that the court can do. They cannot prosecute you without charges, AFAIK.
     
  20. Dec 8, 2004 #19

    Evo

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    You don't know our tribdog.
     
  21. Dec 8, 2004 #20

    Les Sleeth

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    Well, I hate to say this but this would be the perfect payback for the Evil Sisters talking Greg into declaring Saint the winner of funny guru award.
     
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