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Payroll check scammer to face music

Sentencing today for head of scheme

Tuesday, July 23, 2013
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— The man who admitted last year to directing a payroll check-cashing scheme that eventually bilked Price Chopper out of more than $120,000 and has led to the arrest of more than four dozen others is to be sentenced today in federal court.

Shardar Tisdale, 23, who has lived in both Schenectady and Rochester, is to appear today before Chief Judge Gary L. Sharpe.

In pre-sentencing filings, Tisdale’s attorney, Kevin Luibrand, asked the judge to take into account Tisdale’s troubled family background, while prosecutors contend that Tisdale continued his criminal enterprise even after his initial arrest and release.

Tisdale pleaded guilty in August to a charge related to conspiracy to commit check forgery and to check forgery.

According to his plea agreement, Tisdale admitted to directing the counterfeit check conspiracy between December 2010 and June 2012.

Tisdale prepared counterfeit checks, distributed them and then recruited individuals to cash the checks, according to the plea agreement. Tisdale also drove some individuals to the stores, giving them a small cut of the proceeds. Those recruited had to have Price Chopper AdvantEdge cards.

The case resulted in more than 50 other arrests of the individuals recruited to cash the checks.

Each forged payroll check was for less than $950, with the total loss attributed to Tisdale at $129,000.

The scheme targeted Price Choppers in Schenectady, Latham, Troy, Albany, Menands, Glenville and Glenmont, according to the plea agreement.

Tisdale faces up to 10 years in federal prison, but federal guidelines call for a sentence of between 3 years plus 1 month and 3 years plus 10 months.

The scheme was discovered by a Price Chopper fraud investigator who brought evidence of it to the U.S. Secret Service. From there, the store’s closed-circuit video system, as well as its banking and store security measures, led to the further arrests, a store spokesperson has said.

The spokesperson has also said that with each incident, the store is able to better detect such fraud.

Luibrand declined to comment Tuesday. In his filing, though, he cites a co-defendant, Rakim Adkins, who was sentenced to time served, about 10 months, for his role. Luibrand does not ask for a specific sentence for Tisdale.

Luibrand also outlines Tisdale’s family history; he contends that both of Tisdale’s parents were involved in similar criminal enterprises, with his father essentially recruiting Tisdale to participate at age 19. The father allegedly told Tisdale that making checks was better than selling drugs.

“The role of Shardar Tisdale’s father as a mentor is somewhat graphic in that the mentoring did not involve playing pitch and catch, helping with musical instruments or helping study,” Luibrand wrote.

Luibrand also noted that Tisdale’s mother was murdered in Rochester when he was 17.

The prosecution’s filing asks for a sentence consistent with federal sentencing guidelines. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Grogan.

 
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