MUSKOGEE, Okla - What started out as a bogus check investigation at two Muskogee businesses, has turned into a suspected crime ring involving hundreds of thousands of dollars in stolen property from two states.
Just a few years a go, Wheeler Metals in Muskogee decided to invest in upgrading its video surveillance system. Just a few weeks ago, that investment paid off when two men came into the business and allegedly wrote $20,000 in bogus checks.
Chad Wheeler is a manager at his family's business. He tells 2NEWS, "That amount of money is devastating to a company, especially a family owned business like us."
The company's cameras were rolling when two men earlier this month, later identified by Sheriff's deputies as Robert Points and Michel Blevins, came to Wheeler Metals and bought $20,000 merchandise using what deputies say were bogus checks.
Chad Wheeler feared other businesses would fall victim to the men. He says, "We felt since they knew our facility and knew how we operated, that it was someone local. We really wanted to get the word out to our local businesses, because they could get them too."
The same men were caught on video using another suspected bogus check for $2,000 in televisions and accessories at Best Buy in Muskogee. Investigators credit the surveillance video from Wheeler Metals and Best Buy with helping them identify Points and Blevins.
When they served a warrant at Points' home last week, deputies say they not only found the property from Wheeler Metals, but they also found $200,000 in other property that is linked to bogus check cases from Van Buren, Arkansas as well as other cases in Muskogee, Broken Arrow, Owasso, Tahlequah, Cherokee County, Sallisaw and Coweta.
Investigator Burt Poole says the suspects were poised to hit other businesses, "We were able to find the machines that they were using to do this. We also found 12 to 13 more checks that were all ready to go to be used to do the same thing."
"They were into just about everything you could think of," says Muskogee County Charles Pearson.
He says investigators found a stolen pickup at Points' home that had already been taken apart and was ready to be sold off in pieces. Pearson says two other stolen vehicles are being investigated as part of the crime ring.
"A lot of what they materials they bought with the bogus checks were things like welders, cut torches and things of that nature. It's stuff they could sell for cash or use for all kind of different things, like a chop shop," says Pearson. "From what we found, these guys were getting ready to set up a pretty big operation."
Robert Points and Michel Blevins were arrested for using stolen checks and fake ID's to steal the merchandise. Rebecca Ross was arrested on forgery charges. Kellie Gregory faces drugs charges.
Investigators are trying to track down 38-year old Kerry Freeman of Tulsa. They believe he created the fake ID's to match the names on the bogus checks.
Freeman has a long history of convictions for forgery and burglary. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call the Muskogee County Sheriffs Office at 918-684-1643.
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