County’s most wanted

Published 12:21 am Saturday, March 24, 2012

There are hundreds, if not more than a thousand, arrest warrants for bad check writers on file in the county district attorney’s office.

Now, the public’s help is being solicited to help collect on those debts.

Max Smith, investigator with DA’s office’s worthless check unit, released a “Top 10 Most Wanted” of bad check writers Friday.

He said public enemy No. 1 is Denise Collins, 29, who has 53 outstanding warrants for her arrest. Collins has been passing bad checks since 2003. Since then, she’s paid little on her debt. The most recent checks passed on the account were in Aug. 2011, when she paid to have her nails done and purchase goods at a convenience store.

“Ms. Collins owes $32,678.20 in bad checks, fees and court costs,” Smith said. “Her last known address is listed in Andalusia, but we’ve been unable to locate her.

“But, believe it or not, (Collins) isn’t our most notorious bad check writer ever,” Smith said. “That distinction goes to Michael Feagin, who is now in prison, but owes more than $82,000 in total for checks he passed here and in surrounding counties.”

Smith said those on the list aren’t people “who mis-added in their checkbook or got caught short before payday.”

“These are people who have ignored multiple attempts to arrange payment on those checks,” he said. “As the economy worsened, so did the number of bad checks received by this office.

“If a check is marked ‘NSF’ or insufficient funds, it’s returned by the bank to the merchant,” he said. “Then, the merchant is required to notify the account holder by letter, stating they have to come in and take care of it. If they don’t, then the check is brought to our office.

“If a bank account is closed, then a letter isn’t required and the merchant can come straight to us for collections,” he said.

Smith said when that occurs, yet another attempt is made to collect the debt by the DA’s office. When that fails, an arrest warrant is issued. And that’s when large fines and court costs can drive the dollar amounts owed skyward, he said.

“We collect a $30 fee for the merchant, plus the face value of the check, before it goes into warrants,” he said. “After that, court costs are added, which is just under $500 a check. That adds up quick, too.”

Due to the number of warrants on file, an exact total of what each of Smith’s “Top 10” owe was unavailable; however, the number of warrants and a total of court costs is given for the following on Smith’s list:

• Darnell Grandison, 29, of Andalusia, who has 19 warrants and owes $9,557.95 in court costs.

• Ray Michael Blocker, 46, of Elba, who has 12 warrants and owes $6,036.60 in court costs.

• Jacaquita McNeil, 31, of Andalusia, who has 11 warrants and owes $5,533.55 in court costs.

• Sara Butler, 31, Andalusia, who has 12 warrants and owes $5,533.55 in court costs.

• Branden Howell, 25, of Andalusia, who has nine warrants and owes $4,527.454 in court costs.

• Haywood Reaves, 34, of River Falls, who has five warrants and owes $2,515.25 in court costs.

• John Meisenheimer, 32, of Red Level, who has five warrants and owes $2,515.25 in court costs.

• Leon Weaver, 50, of Andalusia, who has nine warrants, and, at last count, owed $4,527.45 in court costs. Additionally as of Monday, Smith said there were a total of 37 bad checks on file for Weaver, totaling more than $2,000 for goods and services. Fees and court costs on those checks is unknown.

• Margaret Boyett, 19, of Opp, who has seven warrants and owes $3,521.35 in court costs.

Merchants are urged to not take checks from any of those listed above, and anyone with information on their whereabouts is asked to contact the DA’s office at 334-222-2513.

As for those on the list, Smith had one piece of advice.

“Turn yourself in,” he said. “It will be easier on you and your family. You don’t want to be in a car with your kids on the way to a special event and get pulled over for speeding. You will go to jail, and then your kids get to see you in handcuffs. You don’t want that.”