Police nab pair of interstate fraud suspects

Published: Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 2:37 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 2:37 p.m.

A couple from Chicago who police said had numerous stolen identifications and bogus checks hidden in their car were arrested after the woman tried to use a stolen gift card at a local store.

Chester Meeks, 43, and Alexis Collins, 19, were arrested by Gainesville Police Department officers after employees at the Home Depot on Northwest Fourth Boulevard said Collins tried to buy six gift cards using a fraudulent gift card around noon Wednesday.

Collins appeared nervous and told employees she needed more money, so she left the cards and drove away from the store with Meeks, a police report said.

Police later found Meeks and Collins in a silver Chevy Impala on the southbound ramp of Interstate 75. Officers said neither Collins nor Meeks could give them a clear reason why Collins had left the cards and contradicted themselves on their reason for being in the area, the report said.

Police said an Alachua County Sheriff's Office canine responded to the scene and detected the smell of marijuana in the vehicle. After searching the vehicle, police found new merchandise items and receipts from several stores in Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Missouri and Florida, the report said.

Police said they also found five identifications and dozens of counterfeit blank checks in a hidden compartment, as well as narcotics in the floorboard, the report said.

Meeks was charged with grand theft, fraud, racketeering, driving with a suspended license and counterfeiting of a bank check. Collins was charged with grand theft, fraud, racketeering, passing a counterfeit note, forgery and counterfeiting of a bank check, according to the report.

Meeks and Collins were being held Thursday at the Alachua County jail in lieu of $645,500 and $695,000 bond, respectively.

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