TEMPE -- After a four-month investigation, Tempe police detectives arrested 18 people in a forgery and identity theft ring that was operating in the Phoenix metropolitan area.
The investigation revealed that those involved had been manufacturing and negotiating fake identifications and checks for more than six months.
Detectives estimate that losses attributed to the suspects may add up to as much as $70,000.
The three major players in the criminal operation were Lema Marshall, 44, her sister Clara Sloane, 51, and Marla Lowe, 51. Other members of the forgery ring acted as accomplices, providing stolen information and cashing the forged checks at locations throughout the Valley.
Detectives uncovered that Marshall controlled the manufacturing of the forged checks and profited from them, charging $100 for each check. Detectives discovered that bank account and identify information was obtained from burglaries, stolen vehicles and while riding through alleyways or going through Dumpsters.
Detectives learned that in mid-December, Marshall, Sloane and Lowe fled Arizona for Fort Pierce, Fla. They were located by the U.S. Marshalls Fugitive Task Force in Kentucky and taken into custody on March 17.
The three women were returned to Arizona on Thursday and will be booked into Tempe City Jail.
Marshall will be charged with identity theft, participating in a criminal syndicate and 11 counts of forgery.
Sloane and Lowe will be charged with assisting a criminal syndicate, identity theft and multiple counts of forgery.