A Tennessee man was extradited to Stamford this week and charged with stealing more than $50,000 from a World Wrestling Entertainment bank account.
James Dewayne Bass, also known as Kelly Monique, 34, of Prospect, Tenn., was charged with first-degree larceny and four counts of second-degree forgery.
During an arraignment hearing Thursday, Stamford Superior Court Judge Robert Genuario set Bass' bond at $50,000 and continued the case until March 22. Genuario transferred the case to the Part A docket, where more serious crimes are heard. The judge set bail without prejudice, which allows Public Defender Howard Ehring to argue for a lower bond amount at a later date.
Stamford Police Sgt. Peter diSpagna said the arrest stemmed from a complaint by a WWE attorney, who called in November to complain that $50,816 had been taken out of a company account and the majority used to buy merchandise and services over the internet or by phone.
Property crimes investigators John Russell and Michael Stempien investigated the case and determined Bass was responsible for stealing the money, diSpagna said.
The investigation determined that of the 61 withdrawals made from the account during October and November, Bass was responsible for making 52, diSpagna said.
According to Bass' arrest affidavit, an WWE accountant told Stamford police investigators the wrestling company could not find any record of Bass ever getting a refund check from WWE and that it was unknown how he acquired the checking account number.
DiSpagna said the withdrawals were either made in his name, or those of Kelly Monique or Timothy Battles -- all aliases of Bass, according to Tennessee law enforcement authorities.
DiSpagna said Bass was able to get control of the WWE account by obtaining routing and account numbers of the WWE checking account.
"People know the technique of using account numbers and routing numbers to purchase merchandise through the phone or on the internet," diSpagna said. "And they know how to use the information to make counterfeit checks, which is very simple to do," he said, adding that check-making kits can be purchased at many business stationary stores.
After Stamford police obtained a warrant for Bass' arrest, the suspect was taken into custody by a probation officer in Tennessee. DiSpagna said Bass was put on probation for an identity theft conviction in Tennessee.
The two-month spree at the expense of the company paid for day-to-day costs of food, sundries and college books, diSpagna said.
"He lived on this account for everything, for his daily expenses," diSpagna said.
A background check revealed Bass had a criminal record for identity theft, forgery and passing worthless checks, his affidavit said. His parole officer told Stamford police investigators that Bass sometimes portayed himself as a woman and used the alias Kelly Monique during a past arrest, according to court documents.
A court bond commissioner Thursday recommended bail remain at $35,000, the original amount set by police after Bass' arrest. The commissioner said Bass had no ties to Connecticut, lived with his mother in Tennessee, and suffered from several medical conditions, including mental health issues. Bass has a criminal record dating to the early 1990s replete with identity theft and forgery convictions, the bond commissioner said.