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Convicted forger gets prison term

POSTED September 11, 2009 10:18 p.m.
A Modesto woman was convicted on Tuesday of multiple forgery charges, including two that happened at Turlock businesses.
Gilliam Joy Stephens, 32, of Modesto was convicted of three counts of second degree burglary, one count of identity theft, one count of resisting arrest, and one count of possession of stolen property, according to the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office.
Stephens’ forgeries began back in December 2008, when she passed a fraudulent check at a Modesto grocery store. According to the prosecution, Stephens was able to cash a forged check using a false identification card. She was  later identified through the store’s surveillance video after the check was found to be counterfeit.   
In February, Modesto police officers conducted a probation search on Stephens’ motel room and discovered stolen property, including stolen checks and identifying information. Stephens was booked into the county jail and posted bail soon after.
On May 29, Stephens, using a stolen identification card, attempted to pass a forged  check at West America Bank in Turlock. When the bank employees realized the check was stolen, they contacted the Turlock Police Department. Stephens was identified by bank employees and arrested by officers. She was in possession of other identification documents, forged documents, and methamphetamine at the time of her arrest, according to the prosecution. The victim of the stolen identification card was contacted and she advised officers that her identification had been stolen when her car was burglarized in Modesto a few days prior to Stephens’ arrest. Stephens was once again booked into jail and bailed out.
On June 21, Stephens entered the Wal-Mart store in Turlock with a stolen identification card and a forged check, and tried to make a purchase in the electronics department. The Wal-Mart staff recognized Stephens from her prior attempts to pass bad checks at the store and called the Turlock Police Department. Officers arrived just in time to see Stephens fleeing the store. Officers chased Stephens and eventually stopped her outside the store. She resisted the officers, who used a Taser to gain control and take her into custody, the district attorney’s office said.
The stolen identification and forged check were recovered. Stephens was booked into jail and before she could make bail, her bail was raised significantly out of public safety concerns. Stephens was unable to post the higher amount.    
Upon the entry of the no contest pleas, Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Nancy Ashley sentenced Stephens to five years and four months in state prison and ordered restitution for the victims.    
To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail sstafford@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.
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