Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Ex-realtor Don Johnson faces new charges

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Former Duneland real estate agent Don Johnson--already accused of selling unregistered securities and committing securities fraud--has now been accused of forging a dead woman’s name on an insurance check and then stealing the check.

On Thursday, Johnson was booked into the Porter County Jail on charges of forgery, a Class C felony punishable by a term of two to eight years; and theft, a Class D felony punishable by a term of six months to three years.

Johnson was charged earlier this year with six counts of securities registration violation; six of broker-dealer registration violation; and two counts of securities fraud. Each of those previous 14 counts is a Class C felony.

According to the probable cause affidavit filed by Det. Mike Veal of the Porter Police Department, in March 2012 Thomas Lipinski filed a report in which he accused Johnson of signing Lipinski’s name, and that of his late wife, to an insurance check issued after Johnson made a claim for roof damage on a house owned by Lipinski and being purchased by Johnson.

Lipinski advised that he only learned of the $8,443.74 check in the first place because the Indiana Attorney General’s Office found it among a package of documents subpoenaed during its securities fraud investigation, Veal stated in his affidavit.

That check had been made payable to the four parties with a financial interest in the house, Veal stated: Lipinski, his wife, Johnson, and Johnson’s wife. But Johnson had deposited the whole of it into his own Fifth/Third Bank account in August 2011, Veal stated.

“Lipinski stated that he was not aware of the existence of the check and that the endorsement signature purporting to be his was fraudulent,” Veal stated. “Further, the signature purporting to be his wife’s was absolutely a forgery because she had passed away three months earlier. Lipinski further stated that it was his belief that the cost of the roof repair was approximately $2,000.”

Meanwhile, one of Johnson’s former employees advised Veal that, although she had not seen Johnson forge signatures on the Lipinski check, “she had seen him digitally ‘cut and paste’ signatures from existing documents on the computer and place them on checks without the person’s approval or knowledge.”

In March Lipinski told Veal one last thing: that Johnson had recently contacted him and, in a meeting with Lipinski at Thomas Library, called the forged insurance check “a mistake on his part” and offered Lipinski $5,000 to “make it go away,” Veal stated.

In a second meeting, Lipinski this time tape-recorded his conversation with Johnson, who said that he didn’t currently have $5,000 in his account but would have it in two weeks, Veal stated.

Johnson was booked into the Porter County Jail on Thursday, then released on his previous bond.

Johnson has pleaded not guilty to the earlier 14 counts filed against him.

 

Posted 6/6/2014