Philly man gets 10 years in bank fraud

Posted: March 16, 2012

A Philadelphia man was sentenced to 10 years in a federal lockup today for his role in a scheme to steal checks written on a Texas city's bank account which were later deposited into a bank account here.

Jonathan Battles, 46, of West Germantown, was convicted of conspiracy and bank fraud after a trial in May 2010. It was the fourth federal fraud conviction for Battles.

U.S. District Judge Cynthia M. Rufe also ordered Battles to pay restitution of $80,494. He was taken into custody immediately after sentencing.

Assistant U.S. Attorney David Ignall argued that Battles was a recidivist and that "when he's not in custody he's defrauding people."

Federal prosecutors said codefendant Angelique Torres was working in the accounting department of the city of Arlington, Texas in 2007 when she became romantically involved with Battles.

Prosecutors said Torres stole the checks, that were due vendors and employees of Arlington, Tx., at Battles' request.

Battles got Torres to steal Arlington checks between February and June 2007 and send them to Battles, who was living here, court papers said. (Torres testified for the government at Battles' trial.)

Battles in turn provided the checks to a second codefendant, Tamika Booker, who had opened an account at a then-Commerce Bank in Center Cityr on March 2, 2007. She made deposits of the stolen checks between April 17, 2007 and June 8, 2007, federal prosecutors said.

Each of the stolen checks had a forged endorsement on the back and bank photographs showed Booker making deposits and withdrawals, court papers said.

On June 29, 2007, Booker opened a business checking account at Commerce Bank in Philadelphia in the name of "Stabil & Winn, L.L.C.," an Arlington vendor, and that same day deposited a stolen check made out to Stabil & Winn from the city of Arlington in the amount of $140,263, court papers said.

A week later, Booker attempted to transfer $73,000 from the Stabil & Winn account to her personal account, before a bank manager suspected fraud and froze the accounts, court papers said.

Authorities said Booker withdrew a total of $80,494 from the deposits of the stolen checks that Torres had provided to Battles.

Battles' attorney, Lynanne Westcott, said Battles intended to appeal his conviction and could not admit or explain allegations in the indictment.

Torres, of Arlington, TX., and Booker, of West Philadelphia, pleaded guilty in the case in 2009 and 2010, respectively. Torres was sentenced to a day in prison and ordered to make restitution of $81,426 in September 2010.

Booker was sentenced to six months on March 13 and also ordered to make restitution of $81,426.


Contact Michael Hinkelman at mhinkelman@phillynews.com or @mhinkelman on Twitter.

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