Cheque fraudster heads to jail despite last-minute pleas for more time

A man caught trying to cash several fraudulent cheques around Stratford hoped to have more time to get his affairs in order before heading to jail.

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A man caught trying to cash several fraudulent cheques around Stratford hoped to have more time to get his affairs in order before heading to jail.

But a judge said time’s up.

Dennis Schleuter, 35, pleaded guilty to seven counts in June and was supposed to be sentenced this week after a pre-sentence report was filed. But as his court date arrived, defence lawyer Amy Robern said her client needed a few more days to respond to a job offer and collect his property.

“He’s had months to do that,” Ontario court Justice Kathryn McKerlie responded.

When given a chance to speak directly to McKerlie, Schleuter gave a laundry list of reasons – laundry was actually one of them – as to why he wasn’t prepared to head to jail yet. McKerlie, however, felt it was time for him to learn a lesson and sentenced him to five months in jail – four for the fraudulent cheques and one for having meth on him during one arrest – along with 18 months of probation.

“You have to start respecting other people and their property,” she said.

The series of fruitless offences – he never collected any money – took place over a two-month period earlier this year. The court heard on March 7 Schleuter deposited a cheque for $3,480 into an ATM machine and came back to the bank several times that day to see if it cleared.

“Fortunately, the bank didn’t process the cheque and realized you were using a forged cheque,” McKerlie said.

A little more than two weeks later, a woman called police after a person attempted to cash a cheque for $2,680 at Money Mart. Schleuter was later seen on video surveillance.

On March 30, a business owner called police about a stolen rent cheque he left in a mailbox the prior day. Schleuter took the $1,698 cheque, made it payable to himself and tried to cash it, but was unsuccessful.

On April 1, Schleuter tried to cash two cheques at Money Mart, but an employee refused to process them. One week later, he was arrested and police found 0.25 grams of meth in his wallet.

He initially appeared in court to answer to those charges on May 13. One day later, he tried to defraud a man of $1,494.30.

“The very next day you went to the court office attempting to commit the offence of fraud,” McKerlie said.

The court heard Schleuter tried to pay overdue fines at the provincial offences office with eight cheques, but an employee recognized him and stopped the transaction.

Crown attorney Nicole Redgate acknowledged there were no losses, but said the “unsophisticated spree” was “deliberate” and planned. Redgate asked for four to six months behind bars and the federal Crown requested an additional month for drug possession.

Robern, who said her client has been diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome and lived a “chaotic” childhood, asked for three months in jail.

tbridge@postmedia.com

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