Woman accused of forging $27,000 check held for court

VE-Front-Page
By MARISSA DECHANT
Staff writer

An Oil City woman accused of forging a check in her name for nearly $30,000 in October was held for court Wednesday.

Stephanie Conner, 38, appeared before district judge Matthew Kirtland for the preliminary hearing in Venango County Central Court.

Assistant District Attorney Kyle Peasley opened proceedings by calling Oil City patrolman Codie Webster, the arresting officer, to testify.

Webster said that on Oct. 12, he received a call from Harry Tyre, the president of Wagner’s LLC, a bird food manufacturer in Jericho, New York.

Tyre related that a check written from Wagner’s LLC to Peel Plastic Products of Canada for $27,197.82 had been intercepted prior to its delivery and had been cashed in Oil City, Webster said.

During his investigation, Webster found the check, dated Sept. 5, to be addressed to Conner and signed by Tyre, he said.

Webster said he visited Conner on Oct. 14, and she said she had received the check but had held onto it for several days prior to depositing it because she had hesitations.

Conner did deposit the check at Franklin Oil Region Credit Union, Webster said, and subsequently withdrew around $8,300.

She explained the check had come from a friend in Florida named Stanless Morka, whom she had met in the Florida area around 1990, Webster said.

They had since reconnected on Facebook, and Morka said he could send Conner some money from his company to help her pay her bills, said Webster.

Webster said Conner was supposed to then send $2,200 to Morka in order for him to relocate to Pennsylvania, and she was to send $18,900 to a friend in California.

Webster said a search for Morka by the Facebook law enforcement division returned negative results.

Further, Franklin Oil Region Credit Union was being held liable for the full amount of the check, Webster said.

Conner’s defense counsel, Robert Hartley, asked Webster about the origin of the check, and Webster explained a mail delivery truck had been intercepted in Canada, and large amounts of checks had been removed as part of a bigger scam.

Hartley argued against the charges of theft by unlawful taking and tampering with records, citing a lack of evidence that Conner illegally took the money into her possession or altered the check herself.

Peasley responded, “She absolutely should have known, in the least, that check was not made out to her.”

Kirtland ruled all charges be bound over for further proceedings in the Court of Common Pleas

Conner was charged with felony counts of theft by unlawful taking, theft by deception, receiving stolen property and two counts of forgery, in addition to a misdemeanor count of tampering with records or identification.

A felony charge of theft of property lost against Conner was withdrawn prior to the hearing.

She remains free on $25,000 unsecured bail.