Plea deal accepted in Nevada County counterfeit case |

Plea deal accepted in Nevada County counterfeit case

The preliminary hearing into the evidence against a couple arrested for reportedly having an "extensive" check forging operation in their vehicle came to a sudden stop when both defendants opted to take plea agreements.

Vann Long, 31, of Sacramento, and Amy McCurdy, 27, of Escalon, had been arrested March 9 after Grass Valley Police Sgt. Clint Bates pulled McCurdy over.

Bates testified in Nevada County Superior Court Thursday that after he pulled McCurdy over, she told him she did not have a driver's license. He said he checked and found it had been suspended.

A search of the vehicle revealed a number of counterfeit checks and credit cards in other people's names, Bates said.

He described the counterfeit checks as being of "poor quality," with poor paper quality and design, and with bleeding of the print. The checks purportedly all were issued by Bank of America, he said.

A glass meth pipe was found under Long's seat, and he said it belonged to him, Bates testified.

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A further search of the vehicle uncovered a printer-scanner and a laptop computer, as well as a bin that contained check-printing paper, credit card and bank statements, and other pieces of financial information, Bates said.

At the time of the arrest, Bates had said there was information belonging to 20 to 30 victims from the Modesto area.

He also told The Union Long and McCurdy had tried to pass checks at three different local grocery stores.

During the hearing Thursday, Bates testified that he had contacted 13 of the victims whose financial information had been located.

One couple, Roy and Michelle Moreland, told him they didn't realize any of their mail had been stolen, but said they had received a fraud alert from Bank of America in March.

Bates testified that McCurdy had told him she did not have the vehicle registration, because she had borrowed it from a friend named Danny.

She provided a phone number, but the woman who answered said she did not know anyone named Danny, Bates said.

Before Bates could be cross-examined, both defendants opted to take plea agreements.

Long — who had been facing one count each of stolen property, identity theft and possession of drug paraphernalia, and four counts of forgery — pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count of vehicle theft, one felony count of forgery,and one count of felony second-degree burglary, in return for a potential sentence of 16 months to be served in county jail.

McCurdy had been facing charges of vehicle theft, stolen property, identity theft, forgery and driving on a suspended license.

She pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor vehicle theft, one count of identity theft and one count of forgery, in return for a potential sentence of two years in jail.

Long and McCurdy will be sentenced on May 5.

"Identity theft isn't just a hobby for these people — it's their occupation," said Nevada County Deputy District Attorney Jim Phillips. "It's time for the government to direct them into a new line of employment."

In other court news:

Nevada County Superior Court Judge Candace Heidelberger denied a motion Tuesday to dismiss felony animal cruelty charges against an alleged dog hoarder.

Gary Dean Perkins, 53, had been arrested in November on felony animal cruelty charges after Nevada County Sheriff's Animal Control officers seized 31 dogs from a parcel in the 16000 block of Bear Trap Springs Road, where Perkins reportedly was squatting.

The dogs ranged in age from 6 weeks old to adult and reportedly were emaciated. Deputies reportedly also found five dead dogs on the parcel, and one dog was pregnant, driving the total number of live dogs involved in the case to 41.

Deputy Public Defender Micah Pierce had filed a motion to dismiss the charges because the statute used was overly broad and vague, and would encourage arbitrary arrests.

"This is one of the worst, if not the worst, written statutes on the books," Pierce said, adding that it could be applied to a person for deliberately swatting a mosquito.

Deputy District Attorney Jim Phillips said a statute based on negligence was not unconstitutionally vague, and compared it to child endangerment statutes.

Heidelberger said the statute sufficiently defined the conduct in question, adding that commonsense has to be taken into consideration.

A hearing on whether Perkins can be forced to relinquish six dogs that have not yet been adopted out, as well as a preliminary hearing into the evidence, remain set for April 10.

To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email or call 530-477-4229.

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