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Red Steer owner charged with check fraud

Red Steer owner charged with check fraud

Tracy Smith was arrested on Tuesday for check fraud. Smith, 27, and his cousin, Jeremy Britt, 23, were arrested on July 15 and charged with the arson fire that destroyed the Red Steer, a restaurant...


POSTED July 28, 2009 8:32 p.m.
Tracy Smith, the co-owner of the Red Steer restaurant implicated in the arson fire that gutted the Turlock eatery, was arrested again on Tuesday for check fraud.
According to the Turlock Police Department, Smith was charged with three felony counts of passing checks with insufficient funds to cover them.
Smith was arrested Tuesday while working at the Red Steer restaurant in downtown Modesto.
The Turlock Police Department initiated a new investigation into Smith after they received several complaints from businesses and individuals claiming they had been given fraudulent checks by Smith.
Investigators found evidence of at least three checks Smith allegedly wrote and then closed the account they were drawn from immediately afterwards, according to Investigations Sgt. Russell Holeman.
The three checks totaled just under $10,000. Two were given to companies that Smith did business with through the Red Steer and the third was for personal use.
Smith, 27, and his cousin, Jeremy Britt, 23, were arrested on July 15 and charged with the arson fire that destroyed the Red Steer.
According to an affidavit for his first arrest, Smith was more than $1 million in debt and several creditors were owed “significant amounts of money to their companies.”
Court records show Smith and/or the Red Steer restaurant as defendants in at least three small claims and civil lawsuits.
According to the affidavit, the insurance policy on the restaurant would have paid out up to $1.1 million for damages and lost income.
The affidavit also revealed that Smith is the target of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office for investment frauds, “where he and his associates fraudulently obtained money from several victims in excess of $800,000.”
His arrest Tuesday was not a part of that investigation, Holeman said.
Investigators believe there could be more victims in this case and ask anyone with information about the case to call Detective Jason Tosta at 668-5550 ext. 6654.
To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail sstafford@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.
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