Target 12

'Con man' wanted in RI charged with embezzling $30K in Florida

CHIEFLAND, Fla. (WPRI) -- A Pawtucket man wanted on warrants in Rhode Island is now in custody on a slew of new charges connected to what a car dealership spokesman called a "Ponzi scheme."

Marcus Crook, 31, was arrested this week in Florida, according to Levy County Jail records, and is charged with 13 counts including embezzlement and grand theft.

Crook allegedly used a "fake ID and Social Security number" to secure a job as general manager at a Chiefland dealership, according to a spokesman for that company who asked not to be identified by name.

"He was a con man. He put a magic spell on [his co-workers]," the spokesman said. "They were fearful of this guy. He really had them under his spell."

The spokesman said Crook changed car sales paperwork about two dozen times since he was hired, increasing the value of various trade-ins to cover cash down payments.

"[Crook] kept the cash," he said.

Chiefland Police Sgt. James Yanok said the investigation is ongoing and more charges against Crook are possible. 

Yanok pegged the amount that was allegedly embezzled at about $30,000 but the dealership spokesperson said he expected that amount could climb.

Plus, he said there are vehicles missing, and several new vehicles that were used by others who did not own them, lowering their value.

Crook has a long criminal record in Rhode Island that includes charges of forgery, counterfeiting, false reporting of a crime, and obtaining money under false pretenses.

One of the active warrants with his name on it involves embezzlement and fraudulent conversion charges from an August 2017 arrest in East Providence.

Yanok said his department determined Crook was named in more than 30 warrants but none were "extraditable."

Crook made headlines in February when he alleged attorney Robert McNellis involved him in a check fraud scheme.

McNellis was arrested, and those charges remain active.

McNellis's twin brother Ryan, also an attorney, insisted his brother was not guilty and that the scheme was run by Crook.

"He had access to the building and raided my brother's office," McNellis said at the time.

Crook's bail is currently set at $490,000 in the Florida case.

Send tips to Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau at wbuteau@wpri.com and follow him on Twitter @wbuteau.


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