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Check bouncer Gooch gets 18 months for con

November 22, 2010
A McHenry County judge sentenced Betty Gooch, the 75-year-old grandmother accused of bouncing checks for new cars at more than a dozen area dealerships, to 18 months in prison Wednesday, after she pleaded guilty of the crime. Gooch admitted she issued a bad check for $22,095 to a Crystal Lake dealership in January 2003, then drove the SUV 2,000 miles before the dealer retrieved it. Authorities said she had only about $50 in her checking account at the time. Authorities said Gooch, who appeared in court in a wheelchair and who requires kidney dialysis, likely will serve only a few months in prison. While free on bail, Gooch was arrested on felony charges in Cook County for writing two bad checks to an Elgin dealer. Her next scheduled court date in Cook County is May 5. Elgin police Detective said he is aware of 10 thefts committed by Gooch, but there probably are more. "A lot of (dealers) don't report it. They just want to get their cars back." Gooch typically visited a dealership two or more times to develop a rapport with the salespeople. When she used checks to pay the vehicle's full price, she would ask the employees to wait a week or two before cashing it, to allow her time to transfer funds. She sometimes appeared at dealerships carrying a portable oxygen tank and using a cane. Gooch and her daughter reportedly went on a similar spree three years ago, bouncing checks to obtain nine cars at seven dealerships over a 12-month period. Prosecuters did not pursue charges then. Hal Stinespring, Gooch's defense attorney- her third defender-called Gooch a "grandmother who made some bad choices." The McHenry County prosecuter characterized her as "a convicted felon." Stinespring replaced a McHenry County assistant public defender. Gooch's first lawyer said he withdrew from Gooch's case for several reasons, one being that her check for his services bounced.