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Pair convicted of check fraud

A former Toledo man admitted Thursday that he created phony checks from bank accounts held by the University of Toledo and Heidelberg University in Tiffin totaling more than $34,000.

Steven Willingham, 41, of Douglasville, Ga., pleaded guilty in Lucas County Common Pleas Court to two counts each of grand theft and forgery for the phony checks, which he said he created on his computer in 2010 and 2011.

Cheryl Utley, 38, of 3216 Brigham St., pleaded guilty to grand theft and two counts of forgery. She told Judge Ruth Ann Franks that she would provide Willingham with personal identification information to use on the forged checks then have those individuals cash the check and give her a share of the money.

Willingham and Utley are to be sentenced Oct. 16. In addition to possible prison time, Judge Franks told them they would be responsible for paying restitution of $15,230 to FifthThird Bank and $19,314 to Huntington Bank.

Also Thursday, Israel Ballard, 23, of 1463 Colburn St., was ordered into the court’s diversion program for three years rather than face conviction for forgery. Ms. Ballard said she tried to cash one of the forged checks but did not succeed.

Her brother, Isaiah Ballard, 25, of the same address, pleaded guilty Monday to attempted forgery, a misdemeanor, for cashing one of the phony checks. He is to be sentenced Sept. 30.

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