by Tim Garrison
A Springfield, Missouri, man was sentenced in federal court today for a bank fraud conspiracy in which he and others used stolen mail to create dozens of counterfeit checks that they attempted to cash at area banks.
Shannon Western Fields, 43, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool to two years in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Fields to pay $21,279 in restitution to four banks that were victimized by the conspiracy.
On Nov. 19, 2019, Fields pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to commit bank fraud from February to May 7, 2018, in Greene, Christian, Jasper, and Newton counties. Fields admitted that he and others stole mail from individuals and businesses in order to obtain checks and personal identity information. Conspirators purchased blank check stock and magnetic ink from office supply stores to create counterfeit checks by using the stolen checks (typically business checks) as templates. They created checks payable to the conspirators, or used stolen identity information to create counterfeit identification such as Social Security cards and Missouri driver’s licenses, to cash the checks.
In addition to Fields, 11 unidentified co-conspirators were listed as the payees on the forged and counterfeit checks. Along with Fields, they attempted to cash dozens of checks at various financial institutions in Springfield and Branson, Missouri. Many of those attempts were unsuccessful.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven M. Mohlhenrich. It was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Springfield, Mo., Police Department, and the Joplin, Mo., Police Department.