NEWS RELEASE
Office of Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr.


June 5, 2000 Media Inquiries: Sean Caine 410-576-6357

"LIEUTENANT" IN MULTI-COUNTY CHECK COUNTERFEITING RING SENTENCED TO PRISON

Baltimore - Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today the sentencing of an upper level member of a multi-county check counterfeiting ring that ripped off area banks for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Alexander Patton, 23, of Temple Hills, was sentenced on his earlier plea of guilty to five years in prison by Prince George's County Circuit Court Judge Steven I. Platt.

Patton, who had agreed to cooperate against ringleaders, Yahya and Elvia Abdussamadi, was initially supposed to be sentenced to three years in prison because of his cooperation. However, while out on bail pending sentencing, he continued his criminal activities, distributing counterfeit checks for yet another criminal "organization". When this breach of his cooperation agreement was brought to Judge Platt's attention, the judge sentenced him to two additional years in prison. At the time of his re-arrest, Patton was in possession of 29 counterfeit checks and a bogus District of Columbia driver's license.

Attorney General Curran applauded the judge's decision to increase Patton's sentence, noting that "it is important to send a message to criminals that if you do the crime, you will do the time, and if you welch on your deal with the State, you'll do even more time".

Patton, who went by the street name of "Boo Boo", had been convicted of multiple counts of conspiracy and counterfeiting for his role as go-between the ringleaders of the organization and the check "passers". Yahya Abdussamadi, 48, who went by the name of "Pops", and his wife Elvia, 40, had literally scores of people working for them: as "passers" (the individuals who cashed the checks), "brokers" (the individuals, like Patton, who recruited the passers), and drivers (who drove the passers around to banks to cash the checks).

Over a two-year period, Pops and his wife created hundreds of bogus checks on computer equipment they kept in their District Heights home. The quality of these bogus checks was so good that they were accepted and cashed by most bank tellers. To counterfeit a check, Pops would scan a legitimate business or government agency check into his computer, and then, using commercially available software, alter it to reflect the name of a co-conspirator instead of the original payee. He would then print out the resulting check on check paper his wife had bought through the mail, retaining on the check the original signature and company logo, so that the final product was virtually indistinguishable from the real thing.

Pops and his wife were also convicted on multiple felony counts. Pops was sentenced to 10 years in prison, while his wife, who cares for their 5 minor children, received three years of home detention.

Patton's role in the Abdussamdi organization was to recruit the "passers", in whose names Pops and his wife would then print up several bogus checks in varying amounts, drawn on the accounts of government agencies and private companies. Each passer would cash 5 or more bogus checks a day, in amounts ranging from $400 to $900. Patton would wait outside the bank in a car that he used to ferry the passers around to the different banks. The passer would get $100 for each check successfully cashed, with the balance being split between Patton and the Abdussamadis.

The false D.C. driver's license and some of the seized counterfeit checks are available in the Attorney General's Criminal Investigations Division for photographing. Contact Sean Caine at (410) 576-6357.

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