Thursday October 18, 2012

KEITH WHITCOMB JR.

Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- A New York man was held without bail Monday after he pleaded not guilty to a string of identity theft and forgery related complaints.

Spencer Durham, 37, of Hudson Falls, pleaded not guilty to two felony counts of identity theft, attempted forgery, and a misdemeanor county of possession of stolen property. According to court records, arrest warrants were issued on Oct. 4 for Gina Granger, 31, of Hudson Falls, and Edward Johnson, 42, of Glen Falls, N.Y., who were named in the police affidavit.

Durham was charged as a habitual offender because he has three or more felony charges on his record. Each is a forgery offense, according to court records.

According to an affidavit by Vermont State Police Detective Trooper Scott Dunlap, on Aug. 26 he began investigating a report of mail being stolen from the mailbox of Maria Legrys in Dorset. Legrys told police the mail contained checks for payment which she said Durham reproduced and cashed, once for $325 on Aug. 18 and another for $847, which was used to buy $800 in gift cards at the Price Chopper in Brattleboro. She said she learned this from her credit union which informed her the checks bore the name Sash Heating and Cooling, her former mailing address, and a false phone number.

Legrys told police the check numbers were in sequence with the three bills she had paid, none of which had reached their destinations by Aug. 24. Dunlap said he examined the checks in greater detail and found Durham’s driver’s license number written on them.

Dunlap said he spoke to Linda Ramsey of the TCT Federal Credit Union in Queensbury, N.Y., who provided him with a list of additional checks that came to the bank bearing Legrys’ information. They totaled seven checks cashed between Aug. 21 and Aug. 23 at Price Choppers in West Rutland, Rutland City, Bennington, and Brattleboro. Dunlap said there were other checks involved but they had been cashed in other states. Each of the Vermont checks was for between $500 and $847.

According to Dunlap, on Sept. 14 he spoke to an employee at the Berkshire Bank who said checks, bearing the business name "All Pro Heating and Plumbing," were stolen from John and Barbara Clark of Pawlet and were passed at a Price Chopper supermarket. Barbara Clark told police she knew of two checks reproduced from her information made out to Durham, whom she does not know.

She said she had a check she mailed to Whitman’s Feed Store in North Bennington, which resulted in a late fee, but she did not think anything of it.

Dunlap said he spoke to Robert Markel, a loss prevention officer for Price Chopper, who supplied him with photos of the four people believed to be involved with the checks, which included Durham, Granger, Johnson, and a woman who did not appear to have a warrant for her arrest issued, according to court records.

Dunlap wrote that on Sept. 7 Durham was pulled over by Bennington police while riding a motorcycle and arrested on outstanding warrants. He had in his possession a book of checks bearing the name Linda Blandy and Pete Blandy of Chittenden. Police said one of the checks was written out to Durham for $450.

Police said Johnson and the other female were with Durham following in a car. Dunlap said he learned Durham purchased the motorcycle at Central Vermont Motorcycles. According to the owner, Jeremy Jones, Durham bought a motorcycle with accessories for $5,791 and used a check with Legrys’ information.

Durham told police on Sept. 7 he did not wish to speak to them.