Clerk’s employees among 7 arrested in check-fraud scheme

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Seven people, including three employees of the Doña Ana County Clerk’s Office, have been arrested in the check-fraud scheme that “entailed notarizing documents to help cash federal tax refund checks obtained using stolen identities,” the Las Cruces Sun-News is reporting.

Only low-level employees of the clerk’s office were arrested. Those employees “allegedly supplied the notary stamps needed to deposit the checks in exchange for a kickback,” the Sun-News reported. They allegedly received $20 per item they notarized.

From the newspaper:

“County Clerk Lynn Ellins and Deputy County Clerk Scott Krahling were not implicated in the alleged scam, which authorities said was part of a larger-scale operation coordinated at the local level by one of the arrested clerk’s office workers. However, Robert ‘RJ’ Hernandez, the whistleblower who kick-started the investigation, on Monday called on Ellins and Krahling to resign because of the seriousness of the accusations against employees they oversee. Ellins emphasized he was not involved and said Hernandez’s call for him to resign was ‘nonsense.’

“Authorities said the local arrests play into a broader investigation by the U.S. Treasury Department.”

There’s an interesting political dynamic involving Hernandez, a Republican who acknowledged to the Sun-News that he’s considering running for county clerk in 2016. Krahling, a Democrat, has already announced his candidacy. Hernandez called on Ellins and Krahling to resign, telling the Sun-News, “They say they are not involved, and that’s true, but they are responsible” for the office.

Ellins rejected the call to resign.

“We weren’t involved at all, and this nonsense about ‘we should resign’ is nonsense,” the Sun-News quoted Ellins as saying.

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