Four suspects accused of racketeering and fraud; three are related


FARMINGTON — Four San Juan County residents are facing a total of 39 criminal charges, including racketeering on accusations of stealing about $16,500 from victims by forging or stealing checks.

Jourdan Lanier, Marcus and Michael Silvers, and DonnaLynn Yellowhair face a myriad of charges, including conspiracy to commit racketeering, fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud, according to court records. 

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Marcus and Michael are brothers, and Yellowhair is their mother, according to court documents.

All four suspects did not have legal representation listed for these charges, according to court records.

The suspects made their initial appearances in Aztec Magistrate Court on Monday afternoon. 

The investigation by the San Juan County Sheriff's Office discovered some or all the suspects engaged in stealing checks from mailboxes, forging signatures on stolen checks, depositing the checks into ATMs and withdrawing the stolen funds, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.

Detectives wrote in the affidavit the investigation showed a total of 21 stolen or forged checks from 11 victims were deposited into a bank account tied to Marcus Silvers and Yellowhair for a total of $16,507.65.

Every deposit made into the account between October and December was made with an allegedly stolen or forged check, according to court documents. 

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Lanier is accused of 20 charges, including 15 counts of forgery for allegedly forging a signature on 15 stolen checks, according to the criminal complaint. Marcus is accused of eight charges, including two counts of forgery. 

Yellowhair is accused of six charges, including theft of identity and conspiracy to commit theft of identity (obtaining identity by electronic fraud). Michael is accused of six charges, including conspiracy to commit forgery. 

Sheriff's Office detective Lt. Kyle Lincoln said there could be more accomplices who could be charged when the investigation is complete.

During an interview with detectives, Lanier was questioned about how his handwriting was similar to the handwriting on several of the forged checks. He initially denied involvement, but eventually told the detectives "they" asked him for information on how to deposit the alleged stolen/forged checks, and he admitted to signing about 11 of the checks, according to court documents.

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The sheriff's office believes Lanier signed 15 of the stolen checks, according to Lincoln.

Lanier told the detectives Marcus and Michael would steal the checks from mailboxes, and Yellowhair would deposit the checks at ATMs and allegedly withdraw the money through a bank's drive-thru.

Marcus declined to speak to detectives, and Michael — incarcerated at the county detention center — denied using a debit card tied to the bank account, the affidavit states.

Three of the suspects recently pleaded guilty to felony charges and currently have open criminal charges filed against them.

In February, Lanier pleaded guilty to seven felony charges, including unlawful use or theft of an ATM or debit card, identity theft and forgery in three separate cases in district court, according to court records.

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Michael currently has three criminal cases pending in district court, including charges for forgery, receiving or transporting a stolen motor vehicle and fraud. Marcus has one felony charge pending for receiving a stolen firearm.

A preliminary hearing for DonnaLynn, Jourdan and Marcus is scheduled for 8 a.m. Thursday.

Michaels' charges were moved to district court for a hearing to determine competency, according to court records.

Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.

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