Scam ringleader starts jail sentence

THE RINGLEADER of a forged cheque scam that brought in £100,000 is today starting a two-and-a-half year jail sentence.Simon Castello, 38, organised and was the main benefactor of the fraud involving the production and distribution of counterfeit U.

THE RINGLEADER of a forged cheque scam that brought in £100,000 is today starting a two-and-a-half year jail sentence.

Simon Castello, 38, organised and was the main benefactor of the fraud involving the production and distribution of counterfeit U.S. cheques to bank accounts belonging to 10 accomplices, most of whom he had recruited.

Rupert Overbury, prosecuting, told Ipswich Crown Court that Castello had benefited between £34,000 and £68,000 from the scam, with other members of the scam keeping a third of their share.

Mr Overbury that the scam started when an acquaintance of Castello, Jennifer Falzone, who worked for American company Cisco International Foods, sent him a copy of her final pay cheque so that he could copy the company logo and style of cheque.


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He said that Castello, of St Martins Green, Trimley St Martin, had also managed to produce cheques from another company based in Salt Lake City, James L Andress Trucking, before passing them onto the other offenders to put into their bank accounts.

However, in May 2002 staff at the Lloyds TSB in Felixstowe became concerned at the large number of foreign cheques going through the branch.

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Castello admitted forgery and deception. Judge David Goodin told him: "You were undoubtedly a ringleader and motivating force behind the operation, set it up and acquired the raw materials. You were a resourceful, determined man. You have shown little remorse until quite recently and you recruited less sophisticated offenders to the scheme."

Judge Goodin also jailed Gavin Lankester, 26, of Keswick Close, Felixstowe, for 18 months after he who admitted obtaining £28,000 by deception."

Stuart Leslie, 31, of Sirdar Road, Ipswich, who admitted obtaining £13,133 by deception, was also jailed for 12 months.

For the other offenders – who all admitted obtaining money transfer by deception, Judge Goodin said that they had all been instrumental and each played a part in the scheme.

He sentenced Oliver Rich, 19, of Somerville Avenue, Great Yarmouth, to 100 hours community punishment and 12 months supervision by a probation officer for keeping £6,000 from the scam.

Carl Haddock, 21, of Fitzwilliam Close, Ipswich, was sentenced to 200 hours community punishment for passing cheques totally £10,728 through his account.

John Kalo, 18, was given 80 hours community punishment and a 12 month rehabilitation order after he kept a third of £8,8776.

Steven Kennard, 28, of High Street, Walton, was sentenced to 160 hours community punishment for banking a cheque for £1,860.

Matthew Codman, 19, of Langley Close, Felixstowe, was sentenced to a four-month curfew – which also took into account a sentence for theft – for keeping £553.

Carl Cameron, 18, of Nursery Walk, Felixstowe, was sentenced to a 12-month rehabilitation order and put onto an offenders behaviour programme for keeping £525.

Joanna Perry, of St Martins Green, Trimley St Martin, and one-time partner of Castello, was given community punishment of 180 hours, for clearing two cheques for £3,428 although Castello never shared the money with her.

Mr Goodin also issued a warrant to arrest Hayley Matthews, of Hammersmith, London, who failed to appear at court yesterday.

nIn last night's Evening Star we incorrectly identified a woman pictured with defendant Steven Kennard. She was Kennard's partner Charlene Swallow, who was not involved in the case and was in court to support him.

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