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Authorities tie Sterling burglaries to multistate check-forging ring

STERLING – Members of a multistate check-forging and burglary ring who investigators say are responsible for hundreds of thousands of dollars in bank fraud also broke into several Sterling businesses and stole payroll and other checks, Mendota police said Thursday in a news release.

Three of the members were arrested May 16 in Waukegan, where they live and where they are jailed pending extradition to the jurisdictions where they will be prosecuted, the release said.

The ring also is connected to bank crimes in Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Wisconsin. The FBI and various police agencies are conducting the investigation, and more charges are pending, the release said.

In Illinois, numerous businesses in Whiteside, Bureau, DeKalb, and LaSalle counties were burglarized in March and April. Dozens of business and payroll checks were stolen, then cashed at banks using fake out-of-state IDs, the release said.

Most of the Whiteside County burglaries took place inside Sterling city limits. Sterling police did not return calls for comment late Thursday afternoon, nor did Mendota police.

The Whiteside County Sheriff’s Department handled two burglaries near Westwood Fitness & Sports Center, Sheriff Kelly Wilhelmi said, but it was his day off and he could not remember which businesses they were when reached late Thursday afternoon.

In those cases, men entered the businesses and asked for employment applications, then returned later in the night and stole checks, he said.

“Any time businesses are burglarized, it seems the perpetrators always go in a day to a week ahead of time to see what’s available,” he said.

“From my understanding, these people are being accused of millions of dollars in checks throughout the country.”

In custody

Three Waukegan men were arrested May 16 on bank fraud warrants, two of which were issued by the federal court system, in connection with a multistate burglary and fraudulent check-cashing ring, investigators said Thursday

They are:

Fernando Sanchez-Guizar, 38, arrested on a federal fugitive arrest warrant for bank fraud issued by the U.S. Court in the eastern district of Wisconsin.

Joel Gaytan-Sandoval, 31, arrested on a federal fugitive arrest warrant for bank fraud and on a burglary warrant from Williamson County, Tenn.

Nicolas Armando Chavez-Garcia, 30, arrested on a bank fraud warrant from Maury County, Tenn.

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