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Banker attributes adrenaline to catching forger

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Banker attributes adrenaline to catching forger

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Woman takes off on foot after cashing fraudulent check



The vice president of a local bank did more than call the police when a forged check was cashed at his bank. He ran after the woman who cashed it and got the money back.

Geena Elizabeth Blanton, 33, of Phenix City, Alabama, was arrested Aug. 7 and charged with forgery in the first degree.

Magnolia State Bank Vice President Mell Merritt said he was standing behind the teller line Aug. 7 when Blanton came into the bank with another woman to cash a check for close to $2,000.

Merritt said the teller who received the check was suspicious, and an attempt was made to call the account holder. He said Blanton’s companion left the bank and drove away while they were trying to make the call.

After the check was cashed, Merritt continued to watch Blanton, and she went directly to Ingles. By that time, he was certain the check was fraudulent, and he went to the store and asked her to come back to the bank.

As he left the bank, Merritt said he instructed employees to call the police.

The banker said it appeared Blanton was going to comply and come back to the bank, but once outside the store, she took off running.

Merritt took off after her, and he said she ran across Bill Conn Parkway without looking.

“That was the scariest part,” he said.

The banker said Blanton stopped to get her breath behind Subway, and he caught up with her. Merritt said he asked her for the money back. He said she took a swing and hit him, but then reached in her pocket and gave him the money.

“It was all there minus 49 cents,” he said.

Merritt said Blanton took off again, and at that point all he was trying to do was keep her in sight. He said she tried to get in several cars in the BP parking lot, and when officers arrived, she was between Verizon and Dairy Queen.

A report of the arrest by Gray Police Officer Cameron Stewart stated that he was dispatched to Magnolia Bank in reference to a forgery, and while en route, he was advised that Merritt was attempting to catch the suspect in the Verizon parking lot.

Stewart said, when he arrived, he was able to stop Blanton and place her under arrest.

The officer said Blanton told him the check was from the sale of a laptop computer. He said the suspect used a false name when cashing the check.

Stewart said the false identification was found on Blanton in addition to a fake social security card and credit card. He said the suspect was placed in the back seat of his patrol car, and he found a white powder on the seat he believed to be cocaine when she got out.

The officer said he took a warrant out on Blanton for forgery and also found she had an active warrant out of Columbus.

Merritt said the chase was a first for him. He said he never felt like he was in danger, but it was not something he planned to do again.

“My adrenaline just kicked in, and before I knew it, I was chasing her,” he said.