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PAXTON — A Chicago man who allegedly tried to defraud the Paxton post office by using a fraudulent check to buy $735 worth of stamps has been charged in Ford County Circuit Court with one count of burglary.
Ford County State’s Attorney Andrew Killian filed the Class 2 felony on Tuesday, April 18, against Rakeim J. Williams, 25, who listed an address in the 400 block of East 107th Street in Chicago.
Williams also was charged with one count of resisting a peace officer, a Class A misdemeanor, for allegedly fleeing from Paxton police when they approached him outside the post office after the alleged fraud was reported by postal office staff.
Williams was arraigned Tuesday in Judge Matt Fitton’s courtroom, and public defender Harvey Welch of Urbana was appointed to represent him. A preliminary hearing was set for 10 a.m. Thursday, April 20.
Williams remained Wednesday at the Ford County Jail on a $50,000 bond, meaning he must pay $5,000 to be released.
Williams was arrested on Tuesday, March 28, after the Paxton post office alerted local police to his presence there. Postal officials in Paxton had been notified earlier that day that Williams was a suspect in an identical scam at a post office in Champaign — and that he may be coming to the Paxton area.
Paxton Police Capt. Coy Cornett said Williams entered the Paxton post office, located at 209 S. Market St., around 3:30 p.m. and asked to buy 15 rolls of stamps. After Williams was told the stamps would cost $735, he provided a check for that amount and his identification, Cornett said.
“Once (the postal employees) saw his ID, they realized that this was the same subject who just did this at the Champaign post office,” Cornett said. “So at that time, they advised him that they could not take his check. He then grabbed the check and his ID and left the facility.”
The post office had already called Paxton police prior to Williams leaving the facility, Cornett said. When police arrived and found Williams outside the post office, Williams immediately fled on foot, Cornett said.
Williams was apprehended in the 200 block of West Pells Street, following a vehicle and subsequent foot pursuit, Cornett said.
Cornett said that like he did in Paxton and Champaign, Williams has used checks from closed bank accounts to buy large quantities of stamps at “multiple” post offices throughout Central Illinois. Cornett said the U.S. postal inspector was “actively” investigating the alleged crimes.
Williams allegedly was targeting post offices in cities located along interstates, including Interstate 57 and Interstate 55, Cornett said.