Forgery suspect claims his life was threatened over drug debt

Jeff Bobo • Nov 11, 2007 at 12:00 AM

MOUNT CARMEL — A Mount Carmel man accused of stealing and cashing several checks from a local real estate business reportedly told police he knew he would be caught, but said he feared he would be killed if he didn’t pay a drug debt.

Scott Lane Price, 306 Hemlock St., was arrested on several charges Friday.

Price became a suspect when several checks that had been stolen from Johnson and Johnson Realty in Mount Carmel came back to the company as having been cashed at BB&T banks in Kingsport. The name of business owner, Hugh Kyle Johnson, had allegedly been forged on the checks, which were made out in Price’s name.

Upon interviewing Price he allegedly admitted to police he had burgled the business last month on multiple occasions and taken checks. A total of 15 checks was allegedly cashed in Kingsport for approximately $5,200.

“(Price) stated he obtained a key to the business by taking it from his aunt, who works as a secretary/bookkeeper at that business,” MCPD Lt. Kevin Ewing said. “He stated he used the key without her knowledge. The burglaries occurred on or around Oct. 15 and Oct. 17 and again on a date Price could not remember. He said that during each burglary he took approximately six blank business checks.”

During the investigation Mount Carmel police executed a search warrant at Price’s home and allegedly found a bag containing 27 Lortab pills hidden among some dirty clothing. Ewing said he believed Price’s explanation that the pills were for personal use, and Price was not charged with trafficking.

Price reportedly told police that by making the stolen checks out in his own name he knew he would be caught, but he needed the money to settle a drug debt. Although Price wouldn’t cooperate further with police on the drug matter, he reportedly said he feared being killed if he didn’t pay the debt.

It was his aunt who recognized his name on the returned checks and reported Price.

Price was charged with three counts of burglary, theft under $500 and possession of Schedule II narcotics.

Ewing said that because the checks were cashed in Kingsport, that’s where those charges will have to be prosecuted. He said the information would be forwarded to Kingsport detectives today.

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