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Police are investigating a young woman in connection with $5,000 missing from the constituent-service fund of D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D). Although they have yet to charge Ladayta Artis, 20, police believe she developed counterfeit checks drawn on Graham’s account, according to documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The D.C. Metropolitan Police Department began probing the missing funds on Sept. 26 after Graham’s chief of staff, Ted Loza, notified police that since Sept. 13 seven counterfeited checks had been drawn on Graham’s account. The account is devoted to helping Graham’s poorer constituents pay utility bills or rent when times get tough. Last year he gave away $40,000. “You don’t think about this until it happens to you, but all of us are at risk,” he says. The checks were drawn on an Industrial Bank account, despite the fact that they had the name misspelled as “Jimm Graham, Constituent Service.” “There is no way to know they are counterfeit checks,” says Claude Barrington, security officer for the bank. “Millions of checks come through, and they don’t all get to the eyes of an individual.” Police soon found a witness, Latisha Coles, who told investigators that Artis had produced the counterfeit checks on a computer at her home but that she had destroyed the computer. Artis’ attorney, Jonathan Jeffress of the Federal Public Defender for the District of Columbia, declined to comment.
Emma Schwartz can be contacted at [email protected].

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