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  Pair Charged With Identity Theft, Forgery After $4300 Transaction At Huntington Bank  
  January 14, 2021 Edition  
     BY JOHN A. DARNELL JR.
      associate editor
      After a man and woman netted $4,300 during a drive-thru transaction at Huntington Bank, 711 Boardman-Canfield Rd., they were arrested by Boardman police on a variety of charges, including forgery and identity fraud.
      About 4:40 p.m. on Thurs., Jan. 7, Ptl. Evan Beil was off-duty, but still in uniform, and stopped at one of the bank’s drive-thru windows before returning home.
      In the lane next to him was a man he recognized as Michael Mele, 33, who has a lengthy criminal history (including forgery).
      The policeman then sent a note through the drive-thru tube, asking the teller if everything was all right; and received a reply saying the drive of the car in the next lane had been drinking and they said bank personnel “didn’t think they are who they say,” adding “They say they have Covid.”
      Officer Beil, who was familiar with the driver, Mele, said that Mele “became extremely startled” when he saw the policeman; and the female, identified as Vicki Raynovich, 31, “looked at me and quickly turned away.” Ptl. Beil then blocked Mele’s car in the drive-thru, as other police came to the scene.
      Neither Mele or Raynovich, who had just been making a transaction at the drive-thru, told police they had any identification on them; as Mele told police the woman (Raynovich) was his mother, Denise Mincher.
      Ptl. Beil said Mele and Raynovich were very nervous when speaking with him…“Mele grabbed a large stack of $100 bills and placed them into his pocket, then began looking through a large stack of credit cards., and then took a stack of $100 bills out of his pocket and put them back on his center console.”
      Initially, Mele told police he and Raynovich had Covid and when asked why they were out in public, Mele said “they needed to cash his check.
      “Mele advised they needed to cash ‘his check’ and they were wearing masks.”
      Mele and Raynovich were advised they were under arrest, when “Mele leaned forward into the passenger side of his vehicle and began to reach into the glove box. Ordered not to do so, Mele was taken from the car by police and handcuffed.
      Boardman police officer Ptl. Nick Newland went to Mincher’s residence at an apartment building at 5014 Glenwood Ave.
      Mincher, 56, told Ptl. Newland she gave Mele her identification and debit card, along with $250 “to make a few purchases at Wal-Mart, but ‘they’ were not to withdraw any money.” She told police that she did not wish to pursue charges, she “merely wanted her money, phone and identification back.”
      Ptl. Beil indicated the check cashed at Huntington could be for unemployment benefits in Mincher’s name.
      “It is unknown at this time, if Mincher filed the unemployment claim that was filled in her name, or if Mele and Raynovich fraudulently submitted the claim using her information,” Ptl. Beil said.
      “In addition to the $4300…Mele claimed there to be an additional $4000 to $5000 in cash throughout the vehicle,” Officer Beil said, adding the Mele told police the money “was his and came from the IRS, stimulus and Covid money.”
      When asked how he received such a large amount of money, he told Ptl. David Jones it was “because of his ex-wife and his kid.” A bit later, Mele told Ptl. Jones he did not have any children, Officer Beil said.
      Mele told police he couldn’t go to jail because of cancer/radiation treatments “first thing in the morning,” then said he couldn’t go to jail ‘this evening’ because he had cancer/radiation treatment.
      “Later he said he did not have cancer treatments,” Ptl. Beil said.
      Mele was advised he would be getting a ride in a police cruiser, to the Mahoning County Jail.
      “Okay, I’ll just claim a medical emergency so I can go to the hospital instead of jail,” Ptl. Beil said, adding ‘just then,’ Mele’s knees buckled and he asked for an ambulance.
      After a phone conversation with Boardman Police Sgt. Jon Martin, “Mele advised he ‘felt better’ and did not want to go to the hospital, Ptl. Beil said.
      During their investigation, Boardman police learned the car Mele was driving had been reported stolen out of Moon Township, Pa., and was owned by Hertz Rentals.
      Police seized the $4300 as well as the car, pending further investigation.
      Mele, of 440 5th St., Struthers, Oh., was charged with receiving stolen property (automobile), forgery, identity fraud, obstruction and resisting arrest.
      Raynovich, also of 440 5th St., Struthers, was charged with forgery, identity fraud and obstruction.
      Ptl. Beil said that Raynovich was released from custody after posting a $9000 bond, and Mele was released after posting a $14,000 bond, and pending an 8:30 a.m. initial appearance in Boardman Court---the same day Mele was scheduled for sentencing in Judge John Durkin’s Common Pleas Court on a forgery-related charge.
      Among many charges Mele has stood before the court on was an Oct. 23, 2019 charge of passing a bad check. He was bound over to the Mahoning County Grand Jury on the charge on Jan. 14, 2020. The record of the court says the case is closed.
      On Aug. 19, 2019, Mele entered a guilty plea on a charge of criminal trespassing at Wal-Mart, He was found guilty, fined $150, 29 days of 30 day jail sentence were suspended and he was ordered to eight hours of community service, as well as stay out of Wal-Mart. He was cited with a probation violation and had eight probation hearings scheduled. Finally, on July 28, 2020, the court said “It was recommended community control be terminated and jail sentence suspended.”
 
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