A handwritten drive-out tag and an aborted right-turn attempt led to a traffic stop and the interruption of a check forgery scam, according to the Commerce Police Department.
Four South Georgia men were arrested on check forgery and drug charges after police found a dozen checks purportedly from Georgia Pacific — all made out to the same person for the same amount.
But it began with a traffic stop.
An officer on South Elm Street noticed a vehicle with a hand-written drive-out tag. As he watched the vehicle, it began to turn right, but corrected and continued south on South Elm Street. The officer stopped the vehicle, which pulled into the parking lot of Lanier Technical College.
According to the officer’s report, the driver, later identified as Kenneth Tyrone McCall, 47, 4838 McCall Road, Rincon, immediately got out, whereupon the officer ordered him back into his vehicle.
McCall advised the officer that he did not have his driver’s license with him and that it might be expired. To the officer, McCall seemed particularly nervous, with shaking hands and rapid speech.
As the officer ran McCall’s information, he observed that McCall and the front-seat passenger both lit cigars and moved about the vehicle. Dispatch advised that McCall had a valid license, but it had expired.
The officer asked McCall to exit the vehicle and searched him for weapons. He noted a folded lump in one pants pocket, which McCall said was cash. The officer asked for permission to search the vehicle.
“I don’t see why you need to,” McCall reportedly replied. The officer repeated the question, asking for a yes-or-no response. McCall allowed the search.
The officer asked the front-seat passenger for ID. The passenger said he had none. The officer asked all four of the occupants to exit the vehicle.
According to the written account of the arrests, police found three orange pills identified as Adderall, a manila folder in the glove box that contained 13 payroll checks from Georgia Pacific made out to one of the passengers, Timothy Marlin Shoening, 57, 118 Turnberry Street, Port Wentworth, all with the same date, for the same amount and all with check stubs; a small amount of powder cocaine on the driver’s seat; a cigarette pack in a backpack belonging to passenger Vincent Matthew Whetstone, 43, 285 Park Avenue, Apt. 4102, Pooler, containing a glass pipe.
Schoening denied knowledge of the drugs. He told police he worked for a company that contracted with Georgia Pacific. He also said the checks were “none of his business,” the officer noted. A search turned up a “large amount” of currency in his pockets.
Whetstone admitted that the checks and the crack pipe were his, the report said. He told police that the men were working in the area and had to get a hotel room. While cleaning up after the others, he said, he found the pipe, so he put it in the backpack so he could report to management what the other employees were doing. Police found a “large amount” of cash on his person.
McCall claimed no knowledge of the narcotics. He said he thought the checks were cancelled and claimed no knowledge of checks being cashed. He too had a “large amount” of cash on his person.
The fourth suspect, Anthony Lavon Dreissen, 20, 601 West 54th Street, Apt. 17, Savannah, who also had a “large amount” of cash, said he had no knowledge of the checks.
Police charged Schoening and Whetstone with forgery. They charged Dreissen with violation of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act and McCall with violation of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act, failure to have a driver’s license on his person and driving with an expired driver’s license.