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March 2, 2013

Additional hearing set in felony fraud case

GREENVILLE — A local man was sentenced to prison last month, for the second time, after pleading guilty to a felony fraud charge.

A hearing is scheduled next week to try and determine what to do about the remaining 19 charges which had been filed against James Timothy Bonham of Greenville.

The state’s highest appeals court ruled last year the 20-year prison sentences given to Bonham in 2011 were illegal and ordered Bonham to receive a retrial.

That trial was under way in the 354th District Court when Bonham entered a plea of guilty February 12 to one of the seven felony counts he was facing.

 Bonham was sentenced the next day to 22 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, with credit for time already served.

Bonham was facing five counts of forgery of a financial instrument and two counts of the fraudulent use or possession of between 10 and 50 items of identification information.

Bonham pleaded guilty to one of the fraudulent use or possession counts.

Bonham was originally indicted on 19 felony counts of forgery and fraud related to what prosecutors claimed was a scheme to bilk multiple victims out of several thousand dollars. He entered guilty pleas in March 2011 and was sentenced to 20 years in prison on 18 of the charges.

The original 19 counts are scheduled to be the subject of a review hearing in the court Monday morning,

Bonham allegedly manufactured four fake driver’s licenses and/or identification cards, which he used to cash, or attempt to cash, 15 forged checks ranging from $35 to more than $3,000 between Dec. 4, 2009 and Aug. 18, 2010.

A total of 16 of the indictments were each punishable upon conviction by a maximum sentence of up to two years in a state jail, with three of the charges punishable upon conviction by a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

The maximum punishments for some of the indictments were enhanced up 20 years in prison, due to Bonham’s previous criminal record.

The indictments indicated that Bonham had four prior felony convictions on his record, including two for forgery and one each for burglary of a building and unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon.

Bonham was convicted of 13 charges of forgery, four charges of fraudulent use or possession of identifying information, and one charge of manufacture with intent to sell a counterfeit instrument and was sentenced to 20 years in prison on each charge.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Court had previously asked the court to review 17 of the convictions and provide findings of fact and conclusions of law.

The appeals court said that it was granting the new trials for Bonham, which was in agreement with the trial court and the prosecutors on the case.

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