Livingston County Sheriff's Office Photograph Deanna L. Leach

LEICESTER – A Leicester woman is facing felony forgery charges in connection with an investigation into claims that she had lost her home and belongings in a fire, the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office reports.

The investigation began Dec. 23 when Sheriff’s deputies responded to Leicester Fire Department for the report of a suspicious letter that had been sent to an employer on behalf of the fire department. The letter informed the employer that an employee was the victim of a house fire and that the home on Gibsonville Road was a “total loss.” The letter was represented to be signed by the Leicester Fire Chief. The fire department had no record of a fire at the location and the fire chief advised that did not send the letter, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Deanna L. Leach, 48, claimed to have been the victim of the fire.

Further investigation with the employer revealed that Leach had reported that she had lost her home and belongings in a fire. She even provided details to her employer regarding the cause of the fire, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Leach provided a list of items that she needed replaced and also attempted to gain financial assistance because it was Christmas tie. Leach continued her fraudulent story by claiming that the Red Cross and social services were assisting her and her family, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The investigation further alleged that Leach admitted to Sheriff’s investigators that she had lied about the fire and created the letter herself, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Leach was arrested Jan. 15 by Deputy Ryan Bulter and charged with second-degree forgery, a Class D felony; second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, a Class D felony; and second-degree criminal impersonation, a Class A misdemeanor.

The felony charges are each punishable by up to seven years in state prison A person convicted of second-degree forgery may also face a fine not to exceed the higher of $5,000 or double the defendant’s gain in the forgery, according to state penal law.

Leach was turned over to Central Booking deputies at Livingston County Jail for processing and pre-arraignment detention as the offenses did qualify for detention under the state Justice Reform Act. The Livingston County District Attorney’s Office requested that Leach be held without bail due to her having four previous felony convictions.

Leach was arraigned at Livingston County Centralized Arraignment Part at Livingston County Jail before Town of Groveland Justice Jenean Love, who remanded Leach to the custody of the Sheriff without the chance of bail

Assisting with the investigation was Sheriff’s Investigator Matthew Oran of the Criminal Investigations Division

Leach had previously served time in state prison following convictions in Livingston County in 2012 for second-degree forgery and third-degree grand larceny, both Class D felonies. She was released in May 2013 to the state Division of Parole, according to the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.

Leach avoided prison in 2011 when she was sentenced in Genesee County Court to five years of probation following a conviction of second-degree forgery. She had been facing a 25-count indictment for stealing and forging gift cards from a Le Roy business where she was employed. She accepted a plea bargain to one Class D felony count and had paid full restitution of $950 to her former employer. Her sentence also included four months of weekends in jail, according to the archives of The Daily News of Batavia.

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