Chattanooga: Man accused in fake check scheme a victim, too, attorney says

Chattanooga: Man accused in fake check scheme a victim, too, attorney says

June 28th, 2011 by Carey O'Neil in Local - Breaking News

A man charged with five counts of bank fraud was as much a victim of a counterfeiting ring as the banks where the fake checks were cashed, his attorney said.

Herschel Hargett is accused of recruiting homeless people in Atlanta and bringing them to Tennessee to cash fake checks at Regions Bank on Gunbarrel Road and at Green Bank in Athens, Tenn.

His trial started today in U.S. District Court in Chattanooga.

According to U.S. Attorney James Brooks, Hargett was part of a counterfeiting ring that picked up the homeless in Atlanta, took them to a local hotel where they were given crack cocaine, then drove them up to the Chattanooga area to cash the checks. After cashing the checks, the homeless people were given $100, he told the jury.

But Hargett's attorney said his client wasn't aware of exactly what was going on within the counterfeiting scheme. The ring was overseen by two men, the defense said, and Hargett was set up as an easy target for police when the fragile scheme fell apart.

For complete details, read tomorrow's Times Free Press.