PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — Oft-accused “confidence man” Marcus Crook spent the winter months and more in Florida for all the wrong reasons and is now back behind local razor wire with significant court time in his future.
Authorities in five cities are hoping charges filed against Crook over recent years will stick after he spent about a year in Florida’s Levy County Jail on a slew of charges connected to what a car dealership executive called a “Ponzi scheme” involving vehicles.
Chiefland investigators told Target 12 Crook used someone else’s identity and convinced the dealership to hire him as its general manager, but within weeks stole close to $40,000 by pocketing cash payments and covering his tracks with fake check numbers on the receipts.
Crook, whose local record dates back to 2006 when he was 19 years old, was extradited to Rhode Island last month and this week pleaded no contest to a pair of misdemeanor check fraud charges out of Lincoln.
Woonsocket police filed paperwork this week on a similar charge, and Crook pleaded not guilty to felony charges out of Providence, East Providence and Pawtucket.
- Providence: 14 counts felony forgery & counterfeiting, 1 count felony obtaining property by false pretenses
- East Providence: 1 count felony embezzlement
- Pawtucket: 1 count felony bank fraud, 1 count misdemeanor check fraud, 1 count misdemeanor obtaining property by false pretenses
Crook was convincing enough to Pawtucket’s Christine Miller last May when she thought she sold her daughter’s motorcycle to him until the check bounced after he took the bike.
“I was with my daughter and I said, ‘we got conned,'” Miller recalled. “He just seemed like a genuinely good guy. Didn’t send up any red flags initially at all.”
Crook was also convincing enough for state police to arrest attorney Robert McNelis in Jan. 2018 on check fraud charges that Crook was charged with the year before.
Last October, as Crook was locked up in Florida, the charges against McNelis were dropped. He said state police were “fooled” by text messages generated by Crook.
Crook is now serving a 60-day sentence for the Lincoln misdemeanors, with a pretrial conference scheduled for Aug, 19 for the felonies.
He’s also scheduled to be arraigned next week for the check fraud misdemeanor out of Woonsocket.