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Published: Tuesday, 8/24/2004

Judge gives area man 5 years for bank fraud

A former car dealer from Kenton, Ohio, who was involved in a $285 million check-kiting scheme, was sentenced to five years in prison yesterday in U.S. District Court.

Steven L. Myers, 42, was sentenced by Judge David Katz for bank fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud. He also was ordered to pay $8 million in restitution.

Thomas Karol, an assistant U.S. attorney, said Myers and Thomas Winkle, a 51-year-old former Paulding car dealer, were part of a check-kiting scheme involving $285 million worth of checks. Mr. Winkle is scheduled to be sentenced for the same crimes Sept. 10.

The scheme commonly involves bank customers writing checks to each other and quickly withdrawing the money before the checks can clear. Done repeatedly, it can confuse bankers and artificially inflate the true value of each customer's account.

The defendants, through their car dealerships in Paulding and Kenton, wrote about $285 million worth of checks to each other in 2001 between accounts in Liberty National Bank and Durez Credit Union Inc., both in Kenton, and the former Oakwood Deposit Bank Co. in Oakwood, Ohio, according to the FBI.

FBI and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. investigators later determined the check-kiting scheme cost the Oakwood bank more than $11 million.

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