Bossier City Councilman James “Chubby” Knight (R-Dist. 5) knows something about the speed of a downward skid. In less than 24 hours, Knight went from being a popular city councilman and possible 2013 Bossier Mayoral candidate to a man fighting for his political life, after being taken into custody on two counts of bank fraud.
According to police, the arrest came after a three-and- a- half month investigation. The investigation determined Knight cashed a counterfeit cashier’s check for $3980 and two bogus money orders for $975 at two separate banks in Bossier City in August knowing that each was fraudulent, police said. Results of the investigation were submitted to the Bossier Parish District Attorney’s Office, which concurred with the investigation’s findings and determined that the charges were warranted. Bossier City police then secured a warrant for Knight’s arrest.
Upon learning of the charges, Knight turned himself in to the Bossier City Police Department. He was accompanied by his attorney, Joel Pierce. He was then transported by unmarked car to Bossier Maximum Security facility in Plain Dealing, where he was booked. His bond was set at $1,000 - $500 per count.
For a man who holds security clearance from the U.S. Transportation Security Agency (TSA), and whose only run-in with the law came in 1973 when he and a friend were ticketed for running a stoplight in Bossier City, the entire episode has been unsettling at best.
Though Knight was charged with both counts Monday, the counts are mutually exclusive. One involves a counterfeit sweepstakes check, which Knight cashed at a local branch of
Capital One, the bank it was written on, and the other is in regard to two fraudulent money orders he received in a “secret shopper” scam.
In the case of the latter, Knight said in late August that he responded to an internet advertisement sent to his email address. He believed the query was legitimate, he said, because he has a friend in another state who works as a secret shopper. Knight emailed his resume to the bogus company, which in turn emailed him that he had been accepted into its secret shopper group. Not long after that, he received two money orders, each in the amount of $975, from the company. Instructions were to cash the money orders, take out $200 for himself, and then go to a Western Union office, pay the processing fees, and then wire the remaining money to California.
He said he cashed the money orders at his bank, followed instructions that also included filling out a questionnaire on the customer service he received in wiring back the remainder of the money. It was only when a Fed Ex envelope arrived at his house early the next morning that Knight began to smell a rat. “When I opened the envelope,” he said, “there were seven money orders in it. Seven. And it amounted to a large amount of money.”
It was then that Knight gathered up the money orders and information he had and took them all to the late Johnny Wyatt, then Marshal of Bossier City. Wyatt examined the documents and walked with Knight to the Bossier Police Department. There, Knight gave the information to detectives regarding the secret shopper scam. Knight said it was during this investigation that he learned he was being investigated in another matter regarding the $3980 check he cashed in July.
Knight said he believed the check was the result of a sweepstakes he won from a company he had begun doing business with around the first of the year. “You buy a few trinkets from them and they enter you in a sweepstakes,” he said. After he received the check, while in his bank making an unrelated deposit to his account, he showed it to an officer, and did the same thing in another financial institution where he does business. Neither knew whether the check was valid, he said, but it looked valid.