Cleveland man guilty of trying to defraud bank of $62K in scheme involving Amherst

By Jason Hawk -

Seven missing checks worth more than $62,000 have led to a bank fraud conviction for Cleveland resident Andre Grier.

A federal grand jury indicted the 41-year-old in August for presenting stolen checks, including one from the city of Amherst, to a bank under false pretenses, according to Steven Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

Grier tried to cash big-dollar in December 2014 and January 2015. He claimed they were earned by his organization, Hood 2 Hood Inc.

Information on the non-profit is scarce, but its June 2011 articles of incorporation with the state of Ohio — signed by Grier — claim it was formed “to provide assistance to those who are in need” with headquarters on East 113th Street, Cleveland.

The Amherst treasurer’s office received an invoice Jan. 16 from Great Lakes Petroleum for a past-due fuel bill of $7,936.75, according to police. That money is used to buy gas for city-owned vehicles.

Amherst finance office workers checked their records and found they had paid the bill Dec. 19 —but that it had been deposited into a Hood 2 Hood Humanitarian account at the U.S. Bank in Garfield Heights.

They filed a complaint with police and launched an investigation by Det. John Balog, who discovered three other businesses that had sent checks to Great Lakes Petroleum, only to have them deposited in the Hood 2 Hood account.

Other checks issued by the Salvation army to a furniture supply company, by an industrial company for cleaning services, and a donation sent to the Susan G. Koman for the Cure fund were also put in Grier’s stash, police said.

The single largest check, according to the indictment, was for $29,579.36 from Beaver Excavating to Great Lakes Petroleum.

Balog found none of the victims had ever done business with Hood 2 Hood. He also contacted U.S. Postal Inspector Lawrence Macek due to the fact all of the victim businesses had mailed their checks.

The indictment said Grier had known the bank teller, who was not charged, for several months before the scheme was carried out.

A joint investigation concluded with a trial Oct. 5 at the Carl B. Stokes Federal Courthouse in Cleveland.

The jury deliberated only 30 minutes before finding Grier guilty of bank fraud.

He will be sentenced Jan. 15 by judge James Gwin.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

By Jason Hawk