Local Law Enforcement Tracks Down Hot Check Defendants in Cooperative Roundup Effort
For Immediate Release
March 15, 2011 – Palestine, TX
Anderson County District Attorney Doug Lowe announced that his two-month “Hot Check Roundup” initiative has succeeded at bringing bad check writers to justice. On Thursday, March 10, 2011, a coordinated effort by local law enforcement agencies tracked down and arrested nearly all remaining theft-by-check defendants living in Anderson County. D.A. Lowe expressed his gratitude to the many agencies that took part in the Roundup and released details about the results of the Roundup event.
Mr. Lowe stated, “Anderson County citizens should be proud of the work done by the following agencies and county offices to make the Roundup a success: Anderson County Sheriff’s Department, Palestine Police Department, Anderson County Constables Bennett, Lightfoot, Dickson and Briley, Anderson County Drug Enforcement Unit, Anderson County Clerk’s Office, and the D.A. Investigators. The time and effort they spent last week canvassing the county sent a message to hot check writers that Anderson County is serious about prosecuting those who steal from local businesses and citizens. Special recognition should go to ACSO Chief Deputy Troy Black, ACSO Deputy Ronnie Holcomb, and D.A. Hot Check Manager Toni Brown for going above-and-beyond to prepare for Thursday’s effort.”
Assistant District Attorney Trevor Theilen announced that Anderson County had resolved well over 100 outstanding warrants for theft by check defendants through arrest or warrant recalls after defendants paying their restitution and fees in full. The money recovered, Theilen reported, amounted to over $90,000 over the two-month Roundup period, most of which is already back in the hands of local merchants. “The amount of restitution paid back just for the month of February alone was better than any month for the past two years,” said Mr. Theilen. “This effort has been a complete success, especially when you consider the difficult national economy and the overall decrease in the number of people who pay with checks.”
Local media coverage about the Roundup drove record numbers to the D.A.’s Hot Check Department, saving the county from having to spend money and manpower finding and arresting them. “People heard about what we were doing in the paper, on TV, on the radio and on the D.A. website and got the word out to hot check writers from all over the country,” explained Toni Brown, manager of the department since 2007. “My phone’s been ringing off the hook.” Those still wishing to see the list of last month’s outstanding warrants can do so at www.andersoncountytxda.org.
Mr. Theilen went on to explain that the high visibility of the Roundup effort for the past few months resulted in fewer arrests being necessary last Thursday. “When we went out looking for people with warrants last Thursday, we discovered that the majority of the local hot check fugitives had either been arrested already or had gotten in touch with our office after hearing all the publicity,” said Mr. Theilen. “Overall, more than 45 people have been arrested on theft-by-check charges over the two-month Roundup period. I think it’s safe to say that Anderson County has fewer theft-by-check fugitives right now than any time in the last decade, and that’s all thanks to the peace officers who made it happen.”
Defendants who have paid off their checks or been arrested will still have to answer to the criminal charges in front of County Court Judge Robert Johnston. To deal with the addition of so many cases to his docket, Judge Johnston has already coordinated with Anderson County Clerk Wanda Burke to add additional court dates to their calendar for the next few months.
Mr. Theilen expects to stay busy prosecuting check cases throughout the summer. “It’s been a real pleasure working to resolve these cases, because recovering restitution makes a tremendous difference to so many in our community,” noted Mr. Theilen. He went on to encourage local merchants to continue offering their customers the option of paying with checks, and stated that “residents and businesses in Anderson County should feel confident that if they’re ever the victim of a hot check writer, we’re going to do everything in our power to get them justice.”
Mr. Theilen suggests that anyone with questions about hot checks contact Toni Brown, the Hot Check Manager for the D.A.’s Office. Office hours are 8am-5pm Monday through Friday Call 903-723-7466 or appear in person at her office in the basement of the Anderson County Courthouse. The District Attorney’s Office accepts payments for restitution and fees in cash, money orders, credit/debit cards, over the telephone and over the internet.