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Madras police eye Gresham forgery suspect

Alice C. Lewis is believed to be linked to $5,000 stolen from a fraudlent bank account at Community First Bank
News Editor
   A Gresham woman accused of numerous identity thefts and forgeries allegedly brought her scam into Madras, local law enforcement officials believe.
   Alice C. Lewis, 44, of 8130 S.E. 267th St. in Gresham was arrested by police on the morning of Oct. 26 and faces a long list of charges in Multnomah County: eight counts of identity theft, five counts of first-degree forgery, three counts of second-degree forgery, four counts of first-degree criminal possession, one count of second-degree criminal possession, five counts of theft III and one count of criminal possession of a forgery device.
   Madras police investigators also suspect that Lewis is connected to $5,000 stolen from Columbia River Bank. They are expecting to take custody of her soon and arraign her for identity theft, first-degree forgery and theft I charges in Jefferson Count Circuit Court.
   Madras Police Department officer Frank Kerr, who is handling the local investigation, called Lewis' alleged crimes an act of "defrauding our local businesses."
   Law enforcement officials believe that Lewis and a yet-to-be apprehended male accomplice have used small communities across the state to conduct their activities. They are accused of making hundreds of fake driver licenses to open fraudulent bank accounts.
   Police are not quite sure how long Lewis and her accomplice's alleged activities have been going on or how much money they've spent illegally with bad checks.
   "It looks like they've been stealing people's mail out of their mail boxes, making Oregon Driver Licenses and using their own pictures to open accounts," Kerr said.
   Lewis' arrest made headlines in the Portland metro area. Television news reports showed photo albums stuffed with more than 200 fake IDs.
   Gresham detectives also found and seized numerous personal and business checks, credit cards, bank statements and credit card bills containing account numbers. A computer and printer were also seized that are suspected to have been used in creating fraudulent documents.
   Lewis is currently being held at the Multnomah County Jail on more than $100,000 bail. Two individuals who were visiting Lewis' home at the time of her arrest were also apprehended and charged with unrelated crimes.
   Gresham and Madras investigators have learned that Lewis' alleged victims had their identification documents stolen from purses or wallets while they were grocery shopping or at bars and restaurants in addition to the information taken from mailboxes. It is also believed that victims had their checkbooks and credit cards stolen during residential and commercial thefts.
   Lewis allegedly used photographs of herself on forged IDs under the real names of numerous victims. The woman whose name was used to open the Columbia River Bank account is a Gresham resident, Kerr said.
   Police are encouraging the public to protect their identification by keeping their purses or wallets with them at all times. Several cases of purses stolen from shopping carts at various grocery stores in Gresham have been identified as a source for forged checks and driver licenses.
   On Nov. 17, purses were reported stolen at both Erickson's Sentry and Safeway. Kerr said Madras police do not believe these thefts are related to Lewis or her counterpart but the same caution is advised.
   Once identification documents have been lost or stolen, any attempts to clear an individual's name through credit sources can take weeks to months.