June 21, 2018
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Police arrest suspects who allegedly stole $32,000 from elderly Guilford man

By Alex Barber, BDN Staff

GUILFORD, Maine — Thieves stole two checkbooks from a local 85-year-old man and robbed him of more than $32,000 by writing out checks from two of his accounts, Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Allen Emerson said Tuesday.

Two of the suspects were recently arrested. The third suspect is already behind bars in Florida.

Brent Wells, 42, of St. Albans was arrested Saturday and charged with Class B forgery.

Johnathan Lehman, 22, of Guilford was arrested Tuesday morning and charged with Class C forgery.

Wells made bail Saturday, while Lehman was still in Piscataquis County Jail as of Tuesday evening. Emerson said more charges are pending on both men.

The third suspect, Shauna Smart, 37, of Etna, is in Okaloosa County Jail in Crestview, Fla. She was extradited from Penobscot County Jail in Bangor on Dec. 4 and charged with aggravated assault with a weapon. She was still in jail on Tuesday, according to the jail’s website. Emerson said she has not yet been charged in the Guilford check-cashing case.

According to Emerson, Wells and Lehman were hired in October by the 85-year-old victim to remove scrap metal from a property the man owned.

On Dec. 14, “the elderly man wrote out a check to pay a bill and it came back to the bank as insufficient money in the account. That’s when he went to the bank and [his two] banks started discovering why he had no money,” said Emerson, adding that the checkbooks were in the kitchen of the man’s residence.

Emerson said 20 to 30 checks were made out to Wells, while Smart had one check in her name and Lehman had three checks in his name. The total amount of money stolen from two different checking accounts came to more than $32,000, he said.

The first stolen check was written on Oct. 23 and the last on Dec. 5, said Emerson.

Emerson said a search warrant was obtained for Wells’ residence Saturday.

“There was evidence found during the search that connects him to the theft and forgery,” said Emerson. “We found a check that belonged to the elderly victim, a blank check. [We also found] other drugs and drug paraphernalia, some laptops, radio stuff and new stuff that was recently bought, and cash was seized. That will tie him to the whole thing.”

The Somerset County Sheriff’s Department and the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency assisted on the arrest, he said.

Emerson said he watched Lehman’s residence for several hours before apprehending him without incident during a traffic stop on Tuesday morning.

Emerson said the suspects took the checks to different bank branches.

“They went around to three different counties, different branches with different checks: Bangor, Brewer, Hermon, Pittsfield, East Corinth. They did not cash the checks in the same locations. A lot of these checks were thousands and thousands [of dollars] on the same day,” said Emerson.

Lehman had previously been in the news for suffering from stab wounds to his chest on Oct. 12. He was found lying in the grass in Newport. He was taken to Sebasticook Valley Hospital in Pittsfield before being transferred to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.

Smart, who was with Lehman in Newport, was taken into custody for violating conditions of release and possession of drug paraphernalia, Newport Police Chief Leonard Macdaid said Oct. 12.

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