Worthless check unit working to collect bad debts

By Staff
Melissa Cason
Franklin County Times
The Franklin County Worthless Check Unit announced yesterday that their office has made heavy strides in collecting bad checks in the county.
For the period Oct. 1, 2006 through March 31, 2007, the worthless check unit recovered $97,176.65 in bad checks unit coordinator Sommer Barnes.
From that total, 80 were checks from cases originating in 2007, and 319 were from 2006.
The rest of the checks recovered were from as far back as 1987, 1995 and 1997, Barnes added.
"I recently recovered funds from a check written in 1979, and the defendant in that case was very angry because she was being arrested for a check written almost 30 years ago," she said.
Currently, there is not statue of limitations on bad checks, and Barnes said that the best thing anyone who writes bad checks can do is to talk with her office so she can help.
Barnes is responsible for dealing with businesses that have bad checks written to them, and for making sure those funds are collected. There are many aspects of making sure money is collected for businesses, including issuing arrest warrants and searching for people who are not easily found.
"A lot of my work is finding people who owe money, and making sure our investigator has warrants for arrests on bad checks," Barnes.
Investigator Terry Zills is responsible with taking worthless check offenders into custody in an attempt to collect money.
Once a person has been placed in custody, the bond amount is set at $1,000 per check written, and they must then go to court.
"Once the case goes to court, they have to pay court cost of $380 per check, and the unit gets a fee of $94 per check," Barnes said.
Barnes added that once the case goes to court, and the violators are ordered to pay the check plus the other fees, the cases many times end up in restitution recovery.
"One particular case involves 75 checks on the same person, and he is now serving a prison sentence," Barnes said.
Barnes said that she is willing to work with each individual on a schedule until the money recovered to the businesses but the key element in collecting the money is communication.
"If they don't call me, I cannot help them," Barnes said.
The check unit operates under the authority of Franklin County District Attorney Joey Rushing.