Cass woman penalized for fraud

Published 9:12 am Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Cassopolis woman will pay the price for her attempt to stave off foreclosure of her home.

Cass County Circuit Judge Michael Dodge sentenced Giani Marie Herman, 43, to 18 months of probation on Friday, on a charge of attempting to gain money through false pretenses of more than $50,000. Herman pleaded guilty to the single count on April 16.

The charge stems from Herman’s actions on Jan. 27, when the woman presented a forged cashier’s check in the amount of more than $70,000 to Huntington National Bank.

The check was intended to pay off the outstanding amount she owed for the mortgage on her home, located on Happy Drive, which was undergoing foreclosure proceedings.

“When police investigated this matter to determine who was responsible for forging the check, you first denied any responsibility,” Dodge said. “However, you later admitted and were forthright, indicating that you did in fact make this fake check. It was an ill-advised effort to forestall or stop the foreclosure of your home, or at least delay them for a time.”

While Assistant Prosecutor Tiffiny Vohwinkle described the defendant’s predicament as a “sad situation,” the prosecutor asked that Herman serve some jail time for the crime. Even after admitting to the crime to authorities, Herman told several lies to police about her husband’s knowledge of the crime, first claiming he was in on it when in reality he had no idea, Vohwinkle said.

“Although a white collar crime, this is a substantial amount of money — probably one of the top 10 that we’ve seen trying to be taken or used in a manner like this,” Vohwinkle said.

Herman’s attorney, Colin Banyon, said that his client had never committed a crime before this one. He said Herman had no idea that presenting the forged check would result in criminal charges — she believed it would just result in a fine from the bank.

“She was just trying to get some more time in order to pay off the foreclosure balance, though she eventually lost her house,” Banyon said.

“I regret everything that I did,” Herman said, when asked to comment on her actions. “I’m truly sorry. It will never happen again.”

Despite the prosecution’s request for three months of jail, the judge decided to give the defendant a straight probation sentence, due to her clean prior record, he said.

“It was an unusual set of circumstances that I’m sure made you desperate to try and stay in your home,” Dodge said. “I’m confident that you will be able to successfully a period of probation and believe you when you say something like this will never happen again.”