BATH, Beaufort County - Two Greenville men have been arrested and charged with five counts each of obtaining property by false pretense using fradulent checks.
Edward Lee Byrd Jr., 37, and James Franklin James, 80, were arrested and charged Wednesday by the Pitt County Sheriff's Office. Below is a press release from the Beaufort County Sheriff's Department on the arrests.
On Saturday, September 15th 2017 the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office received a report from a local business in Bath NC, of a possible fraud. The business owner told Deputies that James Franklin James and Edward Lee Byrd Jr, both from Greenville, came into her store on Wednesday, September 13th, purchased over $1,500.00 worth of high end lawn equipment and paid for the purchase with a check written on a closed account. The men claimed to be purchasing the equipment to help hurricane victims in Florida. The two returned to the store the next day and made a similar purchase totaling over $1,200.00, then on the same day, minutes later, made another purchase from a store in Washington, owned by the same family. That purchase totaled over $600.00. The business owner became suspicious and learned the same two men had made similar purchases using fraudulent checks at similar businesses in Greenville.
Beaufort County Sheriff's Investigators began an inquiry into both suspects and learned the two men had pawned several pieces of the same equipment over the past several months. During the investigation, they learned that 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.
Investigators have now charged James Franklin James, 80 yrs of age and Edward Lee Byrd Jr, 37 yrs of age with 5 counts each of Obtaining Property by False Pretense. Both were arrested on September 20, 2017 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 $100,000.00 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.