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VALLEY FOCUS | Van Nuys

Man Convicted Over Bogus CBS Check

September 05, 1998|MICHAEL BAKER

A Van Nuys man, who starred as legendary R & B singer Jackie Wilson in a made-for-TV movie, has been convicted of passing a bogus $150,000 check.

A jury found Grady Baby Harrell, 42, guilty Thursday on federal charges of bank fraud and passing a counterfeit check.

Harrell played Wilson, who was an inspiration to pop star Michael Jackson, in the 1992 ABC miniseries, "The Jacksons: An American Dream." In 1989, Harrell had also recorded a Billboard Magazine Top 10 hit "Sticks and Stones."

He is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 12 by U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder, who presided over the three-day trial in Los Angeles.

Although the maximum sentence is 65 years in federal prison, with sentencing guidelines Harrell will probably be sentenced to about three years, said Assistant U.S. Atty. Christopher Painter, who prosecuted the case.

In October 1996, Harrell entered the Studio City branch of Great Western Savings Bank and deposited a $150,000 check that appeared to have been issued by the CBS television network.

Within four days Harrell had drained the entire amount from his account in the form of cash and cashier's checks, Painter said.

During the trial, CBS Vice President for Finance Gary J. McCarthy, whose name appeared on the check in signature form, testified Harrell had never worked for the network and that the check was fake.

"It's safe to say it was a pretty bold move," Painter said. "This is not going in with a few thousand dollars. It's pretty uncommon to get a check of that size as counterfeit."

While the FBI was investigating the bank fraud charges, Harrell was already serving time in state prison after pleading guilty last year to acquiring computers with fake purchase orders from Fox Entertainment, Painter said.

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