Woman writes $13K in bad checks

Published 12:13 am Saturday, October 11, 2008

Brian Smith of Southern Furniture said a Lowndes County woman suspected of passing $13,000 in bad checks last week at Greenville businesses stood in the parking lot of his business, held his hand and prayed with his family.

“She held my hand, my wife’s hand, my baby’s hand and prayed with us,” recalled Smith. “She said her house had burned and she had just received her insurance claim. She bought two living room suits, a bunk bed, a dining room table – basically enough furniture for an entire house.”

Sheriff Kenny Harden said during a four-day period, Thoney Witcher Harris, 54, of Hope Hull used bad checks to purchase over $7,000 in furniture from Smith as well as a $6,000 Kubota lawnmower from Powell Tractor Company.

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The checks were drawn on a Regions Bank account in Harris’ name, said Harden.

Smith said he was handicapped into accepting the checks because Regions will no longer verify their customers’ account funds for merchants.

Plus, during Harris’ first visit to the store on Saturday, there was a $12,000 Harley Davidson motorcycle sitting in the back of her pick-up truck, recently purchased – again with a bad check, said Harden – in Brewton. When she returned to the store on Tuesday, the lawnmower purchased by check at Powell Tractor Company was with her.

“I was tickled to death about selling to her because I thought she may have had some money,” said Smith.

Harden said Harris told employees at Powell Tractor she had recently acquired a grant through the Alabama Black Farmers Association for purchase of the mower.

One day later Powell Tractor received a call from someone Harris was attempting to sell the mower to for half its total cost, said Harden.

Harden said Harris, when found, would be arrested and charged with theft by deception. He said he called her cell phone number and Harris answered.

“She said she was protected by the ‘laws of the land,’” Harden said. “I told her she may have thought that, but I was going to have her butt in jail.”