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No progress in pay-off of worthless check

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By Jeff M. Hardison

BRONSON - Levy County Fair Association President Bob Levesque said on Dec. 20 he has made no progress in his attempt pay a $2,000 worthless check he wrote to Robinson's Racing Pigs on Nov. 13.

Spencer Mann, a spokesman for Eighth Judicial Circuit State Attorney Bill Cervone, said on Dec. 20 the Levy County office of the State Attorney has received two worthless check complaints against Levesque and the Fair Association.

Those two complaints are under review, Mann said. That is all he could say about the potential worthless check cases.

Levesque previously admitted writing the $2,000 check on the fair association's account. The check was returned to Randall and Sharon Ross, owners of the racing pigs, for insufficient funds.

Worthless checks affect everyone in terms of higher consumer costs that must be passed on to offset losses, and increased taxes to cover the additional costs for law enforcement and prosecution.

Before Levesque can be convicted of writing a worthless check, the state must prove he wrote the check and that he knew, or should have known, the money was not in the account when he wrote the check, according to state law.

Public Defender C. Richard Parker addressed the general issue of defending worthless check cases.

When a person writes a check that comes back as "insufficient funds," Parker said the person might have accidentally written on a closed account.

The person can say they threw the unused checks in their garbage, and someone must have recovered the blank checks. This defendant can claim to be a victim of forgery.

A post-dated check, Parker said, is another defense. If a person cashes a check before the date written on it, and the check has insufficient money at the time, it cannot be prosecuted successfully.

In that case, the check represents a contract for future payment, Parker explained.

If the state can prove the person who is believed to have written the check, wrote the check, and the state can prove that writer knew or should have known there was not money to cover it, then the case can go to jury trial, Parker said.

If a client wants to force the state to prove its case, Parker said his office would honor the client's wishes to defend the client. The state must prove its case beyond and to the exclusion of reasonable doubt, Parker said.

Perhaps a witness for the prosecution will fail to appear. Perhaps a jury will not believe to the exclusion of reasonable doubt that the defendant is the person who wrote the check, Parker said.

Although Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson was at the start of the Levy County Fair, his office put its role in perspective in regard to the alleged bad check writing by Levesque.

A spokesman for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (ACS) said it has nothing to do with money at the fair. The ACS simply licenses the fair to assure it is not in competition with other fairs in the area, and the ACS is responsible for inspecting rides.