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Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Fingerprints tie woman to check stolen from Brick and Barrel

Riki Dawn Miller
Riki Dawn Miller

A Fruitland Park woman was jailed more than six months after she reportedly tried to cash a check stolen from the Brick and Barrel restaurant at a Leesburg bank branch.

Ricki Dawn Mitchell, 34, of 36024 Water Oak Drive, was charged Monday with grand theft of between $300 and $5,000, passing a forged or altered check, possessing the ID of another person without consent, and dealing in stolen property.

According to the Leesburg Police Department report, Mitchell’s fingerprints were found on the business check for $849.63 that was presented Nov. 12, 2021, at the drive-through of Sun Trust Bank (now Truist), 1211 W. North Blvd.

The check was one of a series of checks stolen from the Brick and Barrel, 209 W. Main St. in Leesburg. Multiple people were previously arrested for trying to pass checks from the series. During the investigation of those cases, it was learned that an unknown subject — likely the person who stole the checks — had been selling them in the Carver Heights neighborhood of Leesburg, according to the report.

On the date of the incident, the teller told a Leesburg police officer that a dark blue or black pickup truck entered the commercial lane of the drive-through. The vehicle was driven by an older white male with a white female in the passenger seat. They presented the check along with a Florida driver’s license matching the name of the payee, the report said.

The teller said she started processing the check when she noticed the signature appeared to have been altered. She did some research and discovered the check number fell within a range of check numbers previously reported stolen by the Brick and Barrel. The teller called the restaurant and was told not to cash the check, according to the report.

The couple in the truck realized the teller was suspicious and left the bank, leaving the check and the ID with the teller. The owner of the Brick and Barrel came to the police station, looked at the signature and said the signature was not from anyone associated with the restaurant and he did not know the name of the woman whose name was on the check and the ID, the report said.

Police were familiar with the woman whose name was on the check and ID through prior contact, but they were unable to find her. Police records showed 20 photos of the woman, including the last two that were of a person different from the other 18, according to the report.

Police submitted the two photographs to the Florida DHSMV to see if they could match them with someone. The DHSMV tentatively identified Mitchell. Police managed to pull fingerprints from the check and sent them to the FDLE, which confirmed on April 11 that five of the prints belonged to Mitchell, the report said.

A warrant was issued and Mitchell was arrested on Monday. She’s being held in the Lake County Jail on $11,000 bond and will appear in Lake County Court on June 13.

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