Local builder accuses officer of forgery

Anne Arundel County cop hit with civil suit over construction fight

Friday, May 30, 2008

A local homebuilder, testifying under oath in Charles County Circuit Court in La Plata, accused on Tuesday an Anne Arundel County police officer and his wife of forging the builder’s name on several checks.

Timmie Lamouroux, a Cobb Island builder, accused John and Kimberly Collier of White Plains of forging Lamouroux’s name to cash four builder’s loan checks from Maryland Bank & Trust.

According to Lamouroux, John Collier hired him in early 2007 to erect, insulate and finish a log cabin-style home on a one-acre lot in White Plains for approximately $158,000.

Work did not begin on the house until May, and, by August, the two men had what Lamouroux described as a ‘‘falling out” that ended Lamouroux’s involvement with the project.

Lamouroux told the court that he was supposed to meet with Collier on Aug. 8, after the argument, in order to sign a check from the bank drawn from Collier’s home construction loan.

The bank requires contractors to sign the checks before it releases money to its construction borrowers. Lamouroux expected to be paid a portion of the balance of his services from the Aug. 8 check, which he said totaled more than $30,000.

According to Lamouroux’s testimony, John Collier refused to pay Lamouroux or meet him to get the check signed, leaving Lamouroux with a $5,700 bill for drywall supplies.

‘‘He said, ‘I’m not going to meet you, and I’m not going to pay you,” Lamouroux testified. Lamouroux said his reply was, ‘‘You can’t cash that check without my signature.”

Lamouroux said Collier planned to use the money to finish other parts of the house. Lamouroux said he contacted the bank and found that four checks he never signed had been cashed with what appeared to be his signature.

L&W Supply has since sued Lamouroux for the outstanding drywall bill.

The Colliers have paid Lamouroux $3,000 since August 2007, a fee they believe covers Lamouroux originally stated price for the services he rendered.

The cases brought against and by Lamouroux have been combined for trial in the circuit court.

‘‘Somebody signed Mr. Lamouroux’s name, not Mr. Lamouroux,” said Steven Fitzgerald, the La Plata attorney representing Lamouroux. ‘‘Those four checks were not signed by Mr. Lamouroux.”

Fitzgerald said that the money from the checks ended up in the Colliers’ bank account, and added, ‘‘It doesn’t take a leap of faith to find that the Colliers signed his name to those four checks.”

To prove his point, Lamouroux hired Katherine Koppenhaver of Forensic Document Examiners Inc. of Upper Marlboro.

Koppenhaver testified that Lamouroux provided her with the checks in question as well as other documents with his genuine signature.

‘‘Before he told me which checks were not signed by him, I picked up the four checks and asked him if they were the checks in question,” Koppenhaver testified.

‘‘It is my opinion that the four signatures on the checks are not genuine.”

Koppenhaver said Lamouroux’s signature was ‘‘very versatile,” changing each time he signed something. She believed the uniformity of the four signatures in question signified that they were carefully copied by another hand.

Defense attorney Ralph W. Powers of Upper Marlboro pressed Koppenhaver to explain her reasoning during his cross-examination. He forced her to admit that she only used a dozen valid signatures to compare the checks in question, instead of the 20 to 25 she recommended examiners use in her own book on the subject.

Powers also forced Koppenhaver to admit that Lamouroux’s signature could have been affected by the conditions under which he signed.

At the opening of the trial, Powers told the court that the case was ‘‘dramatically different from the Colliers’ perspective” and claimed that ‘‘the checks were signed [by Lamouroux] in the presence of the Colliers.”

However, Powers did not get a chance to elaborate on the Colliers’ defense, since Judge Amy Bragunier halted the proceedings early in order to take up other matters.

According to Fitzgerald, the trial is scheduled to resume Aug. 22.