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MAN, WOMAN ARRESTED IN CHECK CASE.

Byline: Jason Kandel Staff Writer

BURBANK - Police arrested a couple on suspicion of writing fraudulent checks and said Wednesday the two are believed to be part of a crime group that illegally gained access to more than $23 million in cash and credit.

Police arrested Karla Yamashiro, 33, and her boyfriend, Dino Salvador Ledonio, 30, of Woodland Hills, on suspicion of burglary after Yamashiro allegedly tried to write about $3,000 in fraudulent checks for laptop computers at a Burbank Comp USA store Monday, investigators said.

Officials said both were charged Wednesday in Superior Court with felony counts including second degree commercial burglary, attempted grand theft of personal property, theft and forgery charges.

In addition, officials said Yamashiro was charged with possession of methamphetamines, and Ledonio was also charged with identity theft and grand theft.

A spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office could not say as of late Wednesday whether the couple entered a plea.

The two are suspected of being part of a Filipino crime group known as The Circulation, police said. The group allegedly steals bank and credit information from mailboxes and has targeted people with bank accounts of more than $100,000.

``They weren't interested in small potatoes,'' said Burbank Police Sgt. Scott Wilson. ``They were interested in big ones so they could write checks that wouldn't bounce right away.''

Using computer equipment in their apartment, the couple would produce fake checks bearing legitimate account numbers but false corporate names, officials said. They would use the phony checks to buy large amounts of computer equipment, then return it for cash the next day, police said.

A search warrant found a number of credit cards and stacks of fraudulent checks at the couple's Woodland Hills apartment, Wilson said. He said authorities were investigating whether the couple used the credit card information.

Police believe someone inside a bank gave the couple information to personal bank accounts.

``They obviously have somebody working on the inside,'' Wilson said. ``We will certainly be interested in talking to that individual.''

The Secret Service and the U.S. Postal Service are also investigating.

Yamashiro was being held Wednesday in lieu of $15,000 bond. Ledonio was being held at the Inmate Reception Center in lieu of $15,000 bond.

Wilson described Yamashiro as a longtime member of The Circulation, with an arrest record in Los Angeles dating back to 1988. Most of the cases dealt with alleged credit card theft and forgery.

Investigators said they believe the two may have been involved in other fraudulent transactions at about a half a dozen other computer stores across the San Fernando Valley.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 19, 2001
Words:439
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