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Man cashed 26 bad checks at club

April 24, 2000|By MARLO BARNHART

An alcohol relapse that triggered a gambling binge at a Williamsport social club last spring sent a Hagerstown man to court Monday for writing $4,277 in bad checks in 15 days.

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Washington County Circuit Judge Donald Beachley said that before he sentences Kenneth Brian Pereschuk, he wants the Red Men's Club in Williamsport to explain why Pereschuk was allowed to cash more than two dozen checks in just over two weeks time.

"They took his money and then let him pour it back into the Red Men's Club," Beachley said, referring to tip jar gambling. "He's guilty of the crime but those were good amounts of money ... even if they had been valid checks, someone should have made an inquiry."

Pereschuk, 38, of 20109 Leitersburg Pike, pleaded guilty to one count of felony check/scheme, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

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Sentencing was scheduled for May 17 at 1:15 p.m. Pereschuk will remain free until then.

According to court records, Pereschuk cashed 26 checks ranging in value from $77 to $200 at the club between March 20 and April 5, 1999, in exchange for membership privileges, specifically gambling on tip jars.

All the checks were on the Bulldog Federal Credit Union and were returned marked nonsufficient funds, court records said.

Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Bill Hayden said the Red Men's Club is seeking full restitution, including $650 in bad check charges, for a total of $4,927.

Hayden told Beachley that Pereschuk's background includes a 1980 forgery conviction and a 1999 theft in Baltimore for which he was sentenced to probation.

"Mr. Pereschuk has agreed not to go back to the Red Men's Club," said defense attorney Brian Hutchison, who cited marital problems as being at the source of the alcohol relapse and gambling binge.

Now employed by Buck's Pizza, Pereschuk asked to be put on a $200 a month payment schedule, Hutchison said. The first payment was made Monday.

Contacted at his home Monday afternoon, Red Men house Committee Chairman Ernest C. Unger said the club now has a policy in effect to prevent such occurrences from happening again.

"Mr. Pereschuk was the club doorman then," Unger said. "I suspect the bartenders had a suspicion, but how are they to know?"

Unger said the club now sends a letter to a member who cashes a bad check and gives the member 10 days to make the check good.

If the check isn't paid, then a second letter is sent and the member is put on a bad check list. Membership can be suspended and prosecution is possible, Unger said.

"We got a black eye on this one," Unger said of the Pereschuk case. "But we do a lot of good for children and older folks with that (gambling) money."

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