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Published: Saturday, 8/23/2008

6 Toledoans indicted over payments from bank account of Wood County jail

BOWLING GREEN - Six Toledo men were indicted this week for a scheme in which they are accused of using an account at the Wood County jail to pay bills totaling close to $50,000.

Former inmate Robert Bannister, Jr., 19, who was released from the jail May 17, 2007, was indicted by a Wood County grand jury for identity fraud, theft, and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.

Daryll Alexander, 26; Jerry Darnell, 26, and Wesley Machaterre, 20, each were indicted for identity fraud, complicity to theft, and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.

Byron Daniels, 27, and Frank Wright, 43, each were indicted on one count of theft.

County Assistant Prosecutor Heather Baker said Mr. Bannister is accused of running a "half-off" scheme in which he would take cash from someone, use the jail's account to pay twice that amount toward the person's bill, and pocket the cash the person gave him.

Mr. Alexander, Mr. Darnell, and Mr. Machaterre are accused of telling others about the scheme and introducing them to Mr. Bannister, Ms. Baker said, while Mr. Daniels and Mr. Wright were among those who had bills paid through the scheme.

According to the indictment, Mr. Bannister learned the routing number and account number for the jail's commissary account from an unnamed "white guy" while he was incarcerated in the county jail last year. He then used the numbers to make electronic transfers to utility companies, cellular phone providers, and other businesses, the charges allege.

At the jail, inmates may purchase snacks and personal hygiene items from the commissary, using money deposited into the inmate's account. When an inmate is released from jail, the commissary writes the inmate a check for the balance in his account.

Jail officials discovered the missing money in October when a deputy who manages the commissary returned from medical leave, began reconciling the account to the monthly bank statement, and noticed the unauthorized electronic transfers.

Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn said the jail was made whole by Huntington Bank following the theft.

The jail also has changed the way it monitors activity in the commissary account to prevent future schemes, he said.

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