LOCKPORT – Tasheen N. Dillard, of Niagara Falls, was sentenced to three to six years in prison Wednesday for a forged check scam. The prosecutor said it’s just a temporary interruption in Dillard’s career.
Holding an empty cardboard box he had brought to court, Assistant District Attorney Joseph A. Scalzo said, “There’s almost been a ceremonial passing of her cases from ADA to ADA in large boxes, referring to assistant district attorneys. She’s undeterrable. She’s not going to stop. We’ve prepared a box for her next case.”
This will be Dillard’s third trip to state prison in the last decade and her fifth scam-related conviction since 2000, he said.
Scalzo told State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. that when a rash of forged checks began turning up at local banks in 2012, his predecessor on the case, former prosecutor Brian D. Seaman, consulted with State Police Investigator John DiPasquale.
According to Scalzo, Seaman said, “Let’s see if Tasheen Dillard is still incarcerated.” When they found that she had been released from her latest prison term, she immediately became the focus of the investigation.
Dillard served eight months in Albion Correctional Facility in 2004 for third-degree grand larceny and attempted second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument. In 2006, she went back to Albion for 25 months after her conviction for second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, second-degree forgery and fourth-degree grand larceny.
“This is basically the same scam she’s been involved in for years,” Scalzo said. It began with the theft of a check left in a mailbox by an elderly Town of Niagara man. There were other stolen checks, and their information was used to print up bogus checks.
It’s the same old scam, Scalzo said.
“Thousands and thousands of dollars are stolen. People with no criminal records are used to cash checks,” he told Kloch.
Scalzo said the people victimized were elderly and in some cases shut-ins who said they might not be well enough to go to court to testify if Dillard had gone to trial.
The victims’ banks repaid their losses, so Dillard was not required to pay restitution. The operation netted between $40,000 and $50,000.
Kloch told Dillard, “A nightmare that’s out there today for everyone to think about and worry about is identity theft. You are that nightmare.”
In the current case, four other people had pleaded guilty to lesser charges before Dillard, 33, of Cedar Avenue, accepted a plea to third-degree grand larceny.
Other defendants were Shana L. Wallace, 22, of Hawley Street, Lockport; Demetrius M. Davis, 34, of 16th Street, Niagara Falls; Akeyta M. Fambo, 29, of West Avenue, Buffalo; and Krystal H. Pesconcko, 22, of Johnson City.
Davis was placed on five years’ probation for fourth-degree grand larceny. Wallace was placed on three years’ probation for two misdemeanors.
Pesoncko is to be sentenced today and Fambo on Monday, both for fourth-degree grand larceny.
Kloch used a letter he received from Dillard’s 7-year-old son as a peg for a lecture he hoped would help the career criminal “see the light.”
The boy’s six-page letter repeatedly asked the judge, “Can she come home, please?” The answer was no, because the prior felonies made state prison time mandatory.
“Why would you jeopardize this?” Kloch shouted at Dillard, who did not reply.