SEBRING — A Tampa man who has already served three short prison terms for fraud-related convictions has been charged with 140 felonies in connection with stealing checks out of mailboxes in Highlands County.
Chedrick Lavelle Oliver, 36, was arrested Tuesday, Oct. 3, by the Tampa Police Department and was brought to the Highlands County Jail on Thursday, Oct. 5. He was booked on 137 counts of uttering a false instrument, one count of using the identity of 10-20 others without consent and one count of fraud to obtain property under $20,000. His bond is set at $710,000.
An investigation by Det. Steven Ritenour revealed that Oliver was allegedly taking outgoing mail out of mailboxes around Sebring — mostly in the Golf Hammock area — between August 2016 and June 2017. The routing and account numbers on the checks that were stolen were used to print new checks, which were then used at Wal-Mart stores in Highlands, Citrus, Hardee, Hernando, Hillsborough, Marion, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sumter counties to buy goods. Those items would then be returned at another Wal-Mart in exchange for cash.
In total, Oliver is charged with forging 137 checks for $18,795.05 worth of goods.
Florida Department of Corrections records show Oliver served six months in prison in 2004-05, nearly eight months in 2009-10 and 13 months in 2013-14, all on convictions for crimes similar to the charges he now faces.
“This was solid investigative work by Det. Ritenour, who worked closely with the Attorney General’s Office of the Statewide Prosecutor to bring this case to the point where an arrest could be made and a career criminal could be put behind bars,” Sheriff Paul Blackman said.