ST. GEORGE — A woman from Honduras was arrested last week for allegedly attempting to cash forged payroll checks after a shop owner spotted irregularities that prompted a call to police.
The investigation was set in motion shortly before 6:30 p.m. on July 19, when officers were dispatched to a boutique on 800 East in St. George on a report of a fraud in progress.
According to a police report filed in support of the arrest, officers spoke to shop employees and witnesses who reported that a woman had entered the business to cash several checks, all of which had irregularities that led them to believe the drafts were possibly forged.
When the clerk asked the suspect for identification, the woman said she did not have any ID and then attempted to run from the store. The suspect was described as having light-brown hair and was wearing a gray shirt and legging shorts. Officers were also advised the woman might not speak any English.
One of the checks the suspect was allegedly trying to cash had a man’s name listed as the payee, while the account the check was associated with appeared to have come from a custom home building company in St. George. The amount of the check was $1,225, according to the police report.
A second check for $285 was also recovered by police and was in the name of a second individual on the same company account as the first.
When officers arrived at the shop, they found the suspect inside the business. Initially, the woman reportedly provided two completely different names to police – the first of which was Mickell Hehaher.
Officers were unable to locate anyone by that name during a records check. Upon further questioning, the suspect then reportedly provided the name of Jackeline M. Hernandez, which was the name used to endorse one of the checks.
The report states that the suspect then told officers she signed as Hernandez because her middle name was Mickell, a name that was not found during a records check and did little to assist officers in their efforts to identify the suspect.
The suspect told officers that an associate gave her checks to cash, the report states, and that another man drove her to the business that evening to complete the transactions. She told them that one of the checks belonged to the man whose name is written on the check, while another check had one of her friend’s names on it. The police report states that she also said the owners of the checks endorsed them before she took them to the store to cash them and that she signed one of the checks using the name of Hernandez.
She then allegedly went on to explain that a man driving a silver SUV with California plates gave her the checks and told her to go inside of the shop and cash them.
Several minutes later, dispatchers ran a records check on a possible associate of the driver of the SUV: 19-year-old Marbely Carolina Galvez. Officers were provided an accompanying photo of Galver that the officer visually matched with the woman at the boutique.
Meanwhile, officers contacted the account holders on the checks and were able to confirm the drafts were payroll checks issued by two different companies, but none of the checks were issued to the payees as listed. One owner said that “no one should have the checks.”
One business owner told officers the checks were placed in the mailbox located at the business the night before and that they should have still been there. Officers met with the owners and confirmed the checks were stolen.
Galvez was taken into custody, and while speaking to officers, she reportedly said that she took the checks from the mailbox at the business and then attempted to cash them.
The combined value of the checks totaled more than $1,500.
The man who reportedly drove Galvez to the store in the silver SUV was also located and questioned by police. The man denied any involvement in the scheme and said he never saw the checks nor was he aware that Galvez was cashing them. When asked, the man allegedly said he picked the suspect up and drove her to the store that night because she had asked him for a ride.
Galvez was transported to Purgatory Correctional Facility facing three third-degree felonies, including two counts of possession of a forgery device and one count of theft. She also faces a misdemeanor count for giving false personal identity to a peace officer.
According to the report, despite the visual identification of the woman with the photo of Galvez, officers were not able to “definitively” verify the suspect’s identity, as she had no ID on her at the time of her arrest, she gave officers multiple names at the scene and said she has multiple names from Honduras.
Corrections staff at the jail were advised of the situation.
Ed. Note: A new Utah law generally prohibits the release of arrest booking photos until after a conviction is obtained.
This report is based on statements from court records, police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.