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Convictions Upheld in Fake Checks Scheme

October 21, 1998

A federal appeals court has upheld the convictions of two Southern California men who passed $800 million in fake checks.

Barry Switzer of Santa Clarita and Julian Cheney of Van Nuys, formerly a chiropractor in Reseda, were sentenced Monday to five years in prison on conspiracy and fraud charges for a scheme that netted $1.2 million.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Switzer's claim that there was insufficient evidence he intended to defraud buyers of the checks.

The men were originally sentenced last year after they were convicted of helping M. Elizabeth Broderick of Palmdale issue 8,000 worthless checks from October 1995 to April 1996. Banks and other financial institutions that accepted the bogus checks lost $200,000. Broderick is serving a 16-year sentence for her role in the scam.

The charges against the men stemmed from an investigation of Broderick, a follower of the Freemen, a Montana-based group that believes its members are sovereign and exempt from U.S. law. In 1996, the Freemen engaged federal authorities in an 81-day siege in Montana as they tried to resist arrest for writing bad checks. The incident ended peacefully.

Prosecutors argued that in Broderick's scheme, she organized seminars in the Antelope Valley, San Bernardino County and across Southern California where she charged participants up to $200 to learn how to pay off debts with false warrants backed by bogus liens.

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