City, Metrolink await answers in stolen-check investigation

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A stolen check is part of a whodunnit in which someone sought to take funds mailed by the city of Santa Clarita to the state’s regional rail authority, officials confirmed Friday. 

A more-than $400,000 payment from the city, part of the funding for work on the Vista Canyon Metrolink project in Canyon Country, is now part of a forgery investigation after someone stole the check after it was mailed and before it got to the intended recipient, endorsed it, then deposited it into a newly opened bank account, according to court documents obtained by The Signal. 

The city mailed a check for $403,551 on Nov. 23 to the Southern California Regional Rail Authority, also known as Metrolink, for work on the capital improvement project, according to a Sheriff’s Department report confirmed by city officials Friday. 

On Dec. 12, a senior engineer with the SCRRA contacted the city’s Finance Department to inquire as to why a check that was expected hadn’t been received.  

A city official confirmed the payment, which was made out to the appropriate payee and address, was reported by Union Bank as deposited on Nov. 30. 

However, when a copy of the deposited check was obtained, officials noted the signature on the back didn’t match that of their regular signatory, and that it was deposited into a Bank of America account. 

A city official contacted the SCRRA to make sure it wasn’t deposited into a wrong account by accident; however, a representative from the rail agency confirmed the SCRRA doesn’t have a BofA account. 

Union Bank issued a fraud claim the same day the SCRRA contacted the city, Dec. 12, and the currency from that transaction was still in the closed/frozen account as of Feb. 1, according to court records. 

A Bank of America official then reported the account was opened with them on Dec. 16, which was used to deposit the check with an “altered endorsement.”  

A Sheriff’s Department representative was not immediately available Friday to confirm the discrepancy in the timeline between how a check was reported stolen and then deposited into an account that was opened after the theft was reported. 

A Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station detective confirmed Friday a report had been received, but could not confirm the date of the report. However, it was then forwarded to the Sheriff’s Department’s Fraud and Cyber Crimes Bureau. 

A representative from the FCCB indicated Friday the case was listed as “inactive” and did not yet have a detective assigned. 

City officials said Friday there were no other stolen city checks associated with the account.  

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