Man charged with cashing bogus checks

November 30, 2012

A Bridgeville man was charged Friday by North Strabane Township police with forgery, theft by deception and bad checks after he allegedly cashed bogus checks made to look like they came from a township auto dealership.

Paul J. Gratzmiller, 65, of 619 Baldwin St., is accused of cashing three checks purportedly from Bowser Cadillac, 2670 Washington Road, at three different Citizens Banks in the Pittsburgh area in August. The checks are forgeries of an actual dealership check. An attempt to cash a fourth failed after a teller at a Mt. Lebanon branch noticed the check was not in sequence, said North Strabane police Detective John Wybranowski.

The office manager for the dealership contacted police and reported the fraud after noticing checks out of sequence. After checking the cashed checks, she did not recognize the name as being a vendor at the dealership.

Two of the checks had the same number and were made out for $94 but were cashed at different branches. The third check was for $3,903.

Dealership management learned a check it paid to a vendor was never received, nor had it ever been cashed, Wybranowski said.

“That may be how account information was obtained to create the checks,” Wybranowski said.

The detective also contacted U.S. postal inspectors.

Wybranowski said Gratzmiller already has been arrested by Pittsburgh and Monoreville police on identical charges for allegedly cashing forged checks from other businesses. He is currently in the Allegheny County jail on $10,000 bond and awaiting a hearing on the Monroeville charges. He waived a preliminary hearing on the Pittsburgh charges.

Police in Robinson and North Fayette townships also plan to file charges against Gratzmiller. The total loss is about $12,000.

Gratzmiller will be arraigned on the North Strabane charges at a later date.

Kathie O. Warco has covered the police beat and transportation for the Observer-Reporter for more than 25 years. She graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in journalism.

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