MDI woman charged with stealing $52,000 using bad checks

Posted Nov. 29, 2011, at 8:21 p.m.

BAR HARBOR, Maine — Police in this Mount Desert Island town have arrested a restaurant owner who is accused of stealing $52,000 by writing several fraudulent checks.

Jennifer Lozano, 41, was arrested Tuesday on class B charges of theft by deception and negotiating a worthless instrument, according to police. Conviction for a class B crime is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

Lozano is the owner of the Parkside Restaurant on the corner of Mount Desert and Main streets and of Best of Bar Harbor, a retail business in the same building. Lozano does not own the building where the businesses are located.

According to police, Lozano is accused of stealing the funds late last month by writing several bad checks for several thousand dollars each with one bank account, depositing them in a checking account at a second bank, and then quickly withdrawing the unsupported funds from the second bank. The transactions took place at Ellsworth bank branches late last month, Bar Harbor police Sgt. David Kerns said Tuesday.

In all, Lozano is accused of stealing $52,099.28 from Camden National Bank, according to police. She did not withdraw all the $54,000 she allegedly wrote fraudulent checks for, according to police.

Kerns said that after Lozano was arrested Tuesday, she bailed herself out of police custody in Bar Harbor on Tuesday afternoon. Her bail had been set at $25,000 cash or $50,000 surety, Kerns said.

Attempts Tuesday evening to contact Lozano were unsuccessful. A message left at a possible phone number for Lozano in Bar Harbor was not returned, and no one answered a call made to the Parkside Restaurant, which has closed for the winter.

A police affidavit filed Monday in Hancock County Superior Court indicates that Lozano opened a business checking account for Best of Bar Harbor at Camden National Bank on Oct. 24 of this year. The next day, she opened a checking account at Maine Savings Bank and deposited $150 into that account.

From Oct. 26 through Oct. 28, Lozano allegedly wrote out three Maine Savings checks for $8,000 each and deposited them, one each day, in the Best of Bar Harbor business checking account at Camden National Bank, according to the affidavit. During the same three days, Lozano allegedly wrote out five other checks from the same Maine Savings account, ranging in amounts from $3,000 to $8,000, and deposited them into a Parkside Restaurant business checking account that she had opened at Camden National in February of this year. The total amount of the five bad checks she deposited in the Parkside account was $30,000.

In the five days following the deposits, Lozano allegedly made “several large withdrawals” from both checking accounts at Camden National, police wrote in the affidavit. In all, Lozano is accused of taking $52,099.28 from Camden National, police said.

Before Camden National realized something was wrong, it submitted all eight allegedly fraudulent checks, which totaled $54,000, to Maine Savings Bank, which then returned them all with a notice of “not sufficient funds,” according to the affidavit. After Camden National submitted the checks a second time, they were returned again marked “closed account,” the affidavit indicates.

A vice president at Camden National then called Lozano four times over two days, Nov. 2 and Nov. 3, and talked to her about repaying the money.

The bank official later told police that “since the four telephone conversations with Lozano, he has not been able to make contact with her and payment has not been made on any of the eight checks,” police wrote in the affidavit.

Kerns, who declined to identify the banks by name during a telephone interview, said Tuesday that the allegedly fraudulent checks written by Lozano were written on starter checks. After officials at Camden National realized they were out the $52,000, he said, they called the police.

“They froze her accounts and notified us,” Kerns said.

Kerns said none of the missing $52,099.28 has been recovered.

Follow BDN reporter Bill Trotter (@billtrotter) on Twitter.

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