PEORIA, Ill. – U.S. District Judge James E. Shadid today sentenced an Urbana, Ill., woman, Stephanie Lemons, 43, of the 1200 block of South Vine Street, to serve 18 months in prison for engaging in a counterfeit check scheme that resulted in an estimated loss of more than $100,000. Lemons was ordered to report to the federal Bureau of Prisons on March 2, 2021, to begin serving her sentence. Following her sentence, Lemons was ordered to serve two years of supervised release.
On Feb. 6, 2020, Lemons entered pleas of guilty to conspiracy and 19 counts of fraud as charged in the indictment. Lemons’ co-defendant, Tommie Slayton, of Champaign, Ill. is scheduled for a change of plea hearing and sentencing on Dec. 1, 2020, before Senior U.S. District Judge Michael M. Mihm. In addition to the conspiracy charge, Slayton is charged, along with Lemons, with seven counts of bank fraud.
Lemons and Slayton were charged with conspiring together and with others to engage in a scheme to pass more than 120 counterfeit checks from July through December 2018. As a result of the scheme, counterfeit checks were presented at Walmart Stores in Champaign and Bloomington, Ill., and forged checks at Heartland Bank of Champaign, Ill. At the sentencing hearing, the court found that Lemons purchased specialized equipment, including a printer, paper and ink, designed to print payroll checks, as an investment in the “infrastructure of her enterprise” to defraud others.
The charges are the result of investigation by the FDIC Office of Inspector General and the Champaign and Urbana Police Departments, in cooperation with the Champaign County State’s Attorney’s Office. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Elly M. Peirson in the prosecution.