Former Trails to Ales employee held in theft case

A Franklin woman was held for court Wednesday on nearly 30 charges related to fraudulent checks written using bank information for the Trails to Ales brewery.

McKenzie Shook, 20, a former brewery employee, came under suspicion after the brewery discovered eight checks using its bank information under the name Rich County Ambulance, Franklin police said. The checks totaled $4,137 and had been deposited in Shook’s name, police said.

Detective Kevin Saragian of the Franklin police department testified Wednesday during Shook’s preliminary hearing in Venango County Central Court that days after Shook’s phone was confiscated by the department she reported the funds stolen.

Saragian said that during an interview with Shook several days later, Shook told him she had sent a photo of her Trails to Ales paycheck to a “famous Instagramer” named Alexia Quinn.

Shook told Saragian that Quinn had asked her followers if anyone had a PNC account, which Shook did, and Shook said she sent the photo to Quinn to provide her with Shook’s own account information, Saragian said.

The paycheck was only labeled with the brewery’s account information, according to Saragian.

Shook told Saragian during the interview that she reported the stolen funds after she tried to contact Quinn when she discovered her bank account had been frozen and saw that Quinn had blocked her on Instagram, Snapchat and text messaging.

Saragian said that when police searched Shook’s phone, there was no evidence of contact with Quinn or other social media users Shook mentioned, which Shook said was a direct result of Quinn blocking her. Saragian said no evidence of contact between the two was found in a search of Shook’s social media accounts.

During a search of Shook’s phone, Saragian said police found the picture of Shook’s paycheck – which had no evidence of being sent anywhere – a picture of stacks of money that appeared to contain predominantly large bills, and a video of a person flipping through a similar stack of money.

Saragian said that at no point in Shook’s bank account history did she have more than $400 before the day the fake checks were deposited.

Shook was held for court on five felony counts of access device is counterfeit, altered, incomplete; eight felony counts of forgery-unauthorized act in writing, one felony count each of theft by unlawful taking of movable property, receiving stolen property and criminal use of a communication facility, three misdemeanor counts of access device used to obtain or attempt to obtain property/service, and eight misdemeanor counts of theft by deception-false impression.