A 19-year-old man admitted to Palmer Township police he cashed more than $1,100 in family checks by forging his stepmother’s signature and stole more than $2,800 in items – mostly jewelry – from his family’s home.
Court records say Dakoda Jordan Whitman cashed the forged checks at KNBT banks in Palmer and Lower Nazareth townships and at a Weis Market in Palmer. He cashed them between July 18 and Aug. 21.The jewelry includes a TAG Heuer watch valued at $1,600 and a yellow gold wedding band with the inscription “You’re my hero.” Whitman either pawned or sold the jewelry, the records say.
Receipts from an Easton pawn shop show that Whitman began taking the jewelry at the beginning of the year.
The records also say Whitman, who was recently fired from an area Burger King, wrote 20 checks -- 17 made payable to himself and three made payable to Weis Markets – all drawn on his father’s and stepmother’s checking account at KNBT Bank.
Surveillance video from KNBT showed Whitman cashing the checks at teller and drive-through windows, the records say.
Whitman is listed as having no current address. But the records include a reference his father makes to his son’s room at the family home on the 4000 block of Meadow Avenue.
A criminal complaint filed by Palmer Officer John Gillen also says:
- Gillen went to the Whitman home the morning of Aug. 22 on a report of stolen checks.
- The suspect’s father, Russell, told Gillen he suspected his son had been stealing items from the house – for example, an iPod and a phone were missing. He said he contacted his son’s employer, Burger King, to see if he was still working there but was told the son was let go. The records list the Burger King as being on Route 248, but it’s not clear if that refers to the restaurant in Palmer Township or the one in the Northampton Crossings shopping center.
- The elder Whitman said his wife, Melissa, had discovered that several checks from her and her husband’s checking account were written out to Dakoda with Melissa’s signature. The father said that in his son’s room he found a ripped-up check with a forged signature.
- Later on Aug. 22, Officer Tyson Unangst went to the Whitman home and was told by the father that he found other items were missing, including jewelry and three Wii games. In addition to the TAG Heuer watch and the inscribed wedding band, the missing jewelry included an aquamarine heart and diamond gold ring, a gold ring with ovals on top, a yellow gold heart anklet and a gold bracelet.
- On Friday (Aug. 24), Det. Thomas Vogel went to the Twin Rivers Trading Post, a pawn shop at 50 Centre Square in Easton, and got receipts for two items Whitman brought there -- a Feb. 9 receipt for the TAG Heuer watch and a Jan. 6 receipt for a gold ring. The records do not say how much he received for the items.
- Whitman, meanwhile, arrived at the Palmer police station around 3pm Sunday and admitted to the check forging and stealing the jewelry and video games. He told police he sold the other pieces of jewelry at Palmer Park Mall (exactly where is not specified).
Whitman was charged with forgery, theft by deception, receiving stolen property and theft by unlawful taking. He was arraigned Sunday night by on-duty District Judge Robert Hawke of Lehigh Township and committed to Northampton County Prison after failing to post $25,000 bail.