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North Branford Detective Breaks Check-Washing Scheme

Detective Ron Onofrio's nine-month investigation of a check-cashing scheme came to a close as he served warrants yesterday.

North Branford Detective Breaks Check-Washing Scheme

On Aug. 2, Detective Ron Onofrio served two warrants for Vanessa Diverniero that he had applied for following an in-depth investigation into a check-cashing scheme with very unusual twists.

In September 2010, Onofrio began an investigation after the Town of North Branford reported stolen checks. The town had sent out two payments; one from the Board of Education to the Sherwin Williams Paint Company; the other from the Town itself to the A&M Guardrail company for more $10,000. 

Both vendors contacted the town complaining they had never received payment. Onofrio tracked the payments through the postal service and confirmed they were delivered to the companies’ mailboxes where they had apparently been stolen. 

The investigation led him the TD Bank in New Haven where images of a female cashing both of the missing checks on different dates was obtained. Further investigation revealed that the female had chemically altered the checks through a process called “washing” in which the original ink on the check is dissolved. She then made out the checks to herself in different amounts exceeding thousands of dollars. 

After Onofrio confirmed her identity, warrants were obtained.  She eluded capture for several months and the detective finally caught up to her yesterday placing her under arrest.

Diverniero, 25, of New Haven, was charged with two counts of first-degree larceny and two counts of third-degree forgery. She was then turned over to the Branford Police Department following her processing as BPD also held active warrants for her for similar crimes committed in their city. She was held pending a $20,000 court-set bond.

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