Deputies: 2 Greenville men use hurricane aid as cover for fake checks

WASHINGTON, N.C. (WNCT) — Two Greenville men used fake checks to buy high-end lawn equipment they said was for hurricane victims in Florida but pawned instead, the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office said.

Investigators have charged James Franklin James, 80, and Edward Lee Byrd Jr, 37, with five counts each of obtaining property by false pretense.

A little over a week ago, the two men bought more than $1,500 worth of lawn equipment and then made a similar purchase of over $1,200 the next day from the same business in Bath. They claimed the equipment was for Hurricane victims in Florida, deputies said. Minutes after the second purchase in Bath, the two men made a $600 purchase at a store in Washington, which was owned by the same family as the store in Bath.

The business owner got suspicious and alerted police after learning the men make similar purchases at businesses in Greenville. Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office investigators said both men had pawned several pieces of the same equipment over the past several months.

The Sheriff’s Office said James and Byrd had also made similar purchases as far back as June of 2017, at businesses in both Pitt and Craven counties, each time paying with a fraudulent check.

Both were arrested Wednesday by the Pitt County Sheriff’s Office.  James was ordered held on a $25,000.00 secured bond while Byrd, who was on probation at the time of his arrest, was ordered held on a $100,000 secured bond.

Both men also face charges in Pitt and Craven counties.  Investigators believe there are likely other businesses in eastern North Carolina who have been victimized by these two men and encourage those businesses to contact local law enforcement.

Investigators believe there are likely other businesses in eastern North Carolina who have been victimized by these two men and encourage those businesses to contact local law enforcement.

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