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Cops: Derry Township man accused of stealing checks from mailboxes

December 3, 2018

A New Derry man remained in jail Wednesday after police accused him of stealing checks residents thought they had mailed to pay mortgages and bills but instead ended up being forged and cashed.

State police charged Drake A. White, 22, with multiple forgery, access device fraud and theft complaints. Acting District Judge Wayne Gongaware on Monday ordered White be held in the Westmoreland County Prison on $25,000 bond.

Investigators said White forged his name and cashed three bill payment checks made July 9 by a Derry Township woman totalling $1,848. Last month, Latrobe police charged White with forging his name and altering a $2,000 mortgage payment check made July 2 by a Latrobe resident.

Trooper Tavin Davis reported in court papers that the alleged McChesneytown victim did not realize the payments were diverted and cashed until September “when she received delinquent notices” from Peoples Gas, West Penn Power and Chase Bank.

In an interview, the victim recalled writing the checks and placing them with bills in white envelopes and mailing them at her residence, Davis said. White was identified through surveillance photographs when he cashed the forged checks via an automated teller machine at a PNC Bank in Unity Township, Davis reported.

In the Latrobe theft, the victim was notified by Commercial Bank and Trust that his $2,000 mortgage payment had been altered from $2,000 to $200 and was cashed by White, according to court documents filed by Latrobe Police Sgt. Joseph Angus. The Latrobe victim also placed his payment in a mailbox, Angus reported.

Davis said U.S. Postal inspectors assisted in the investigation. Authorities interviewed White during the investigations.

“White believes he used the money to buy drugs,” Angus wrote in court documents.

City police last month also charged White with possession of a small amount of crack cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia. Preliminary hearings are tentatively scheduled Nov. 26.

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