Escaped con charged with issuing fraudulent checks at jewelry stores

The Jewelers’ Security Alliance has issued a crime alert for an escaped convict who is charged with purchasing jewelry with fraudulent personal checks in Kentucky.

Police have linked Sam Shepard, who is wanted for escape from a correctional facility in Paintsville, Ky., to at least four robberies that may all involve jewelry stores. On Dec. 3 and Dec. 9, 2005, police said Shepard wrote two fraudulent personal checks at two jewelry stores in Fort Thomas, a Cincinnati suburb, for approximately $18,000 worth of jewelry. Police report that Shepard has also been active in Winchester near the city of Lexington, and Bellevue, another Cincinnati suburb. Though the last two incidents weren’t detailed in the police report, John Kennedy, JSA president, told JCK that he believes all four incidents involved jewelry stores.

On both reported incidents, police said, Shepard visited the store after normal banking hours and asked to look at 2-ct. diamond rings. After agreeing on a price, he paid for the jewelry with personal checks written against accounts which had been closed for several months. Because the bank was closed, the sales associates were unable to verify that the account had sufficient funds. Shepard was then was able to convince the sales associates into completing his purchases without check verification, and was allowed to leave with the jewelry.

Campbell County District Court issued a warrant for Shepard’s arrest on Dec. 15 for the two Fort Thomas cases. Four days later the same court issued a warrant for the alleged robbery in Bellevue, authorities said. Both warrants charge Shepard with “theft by deception.”

Shepard, 38, is described as a white male with brown hair who is 5-ft. 8 in. tall and 195 pounds. He has been seen driving a blue 1997 Dodge sport utility vehicle with Kentucky registration, police said.

Kennedy said he issued the crime alert by email and by mail at the request of Kentucky authorities and because JSA tries to alert the jewelry industry on the variety of crimes being committed against the jewelry industry.

“Escape convicts can be trouble,” Kennedy said. “We have an arrest warrant in this case. They’re not that easy to get because you have to identify the suspect.”

He added, “We have an obligation to inform our industry of the variety of crimes going on … whatever they might be.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact detective Ray Metz, of the Fort Thomas, Police Department, at 859-572-1272 or by e-mail at rmetz@ftthomas.org. Or call JSA at 800-537-0067 or 212-687-0328.