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Springfield Man Pleads Guilty to Bank Fraud Conspiracy

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A Springfield, Missouri, man pleaded guilty in federal court today to a bank fraud conspiracy in which he and others used stolen mail to create dozens of counterfeit checks that they attempted to cash at area banks.

Shannon Western Fields, 42, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool to participating in a conspiracy to commit bank fraud from February to May 7, 2018, in Greene, Christian, Jasper, and Newton counties.

By pleading guilty today, Fields admitted that he and others stole mail from individuals and businesses in order to obtain checks and personal identity information. Conspirators purchased blank check stock and magnetic ink from office supply stores to create counterfeit checks by using the stolen checks (typically business checks) as templates. They created checks payable to the conspirators, or used stolen identity information to create counterfeit identification such as Social Security cards and Missouri driver’s licenses, to cash the checks.

In addition to Fields, 11 unidentified co-conspirators were listed as the payees on the forged and counterfeit checks. Along with Fields, they attempted to cash dozens of checks at various financial institutions in Springfield and Branson, Missouri. Many of those attempts were unsuccessful.

Under the terms of today’s plea agreement, Fields must pay $21,279 in restitution to four banks that were victimized by the conspiracy.

Under federal statutes, Fields is subject to a sentence of up to 30 years in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven M. Mohlhenrich. It was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Springfield, Mo., Police Department, and the Joplin, Mo., Police Department.

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