Citizens and business owners take a stand
Recently the PoteauDaily News ran a letter tothe editor written by alocal business owneraccusing a Monroe womanof scamming him out ofmoney. It now seems asthough another businessowner has attempted towarn the public about thiswoman and her family.A sign posted on thedoors of the Heavener andHodgen Tote-A-Pokestates, “Attention: Scam.Do not give money to Kyle- Steve- or Teri Tiffee.They are out panderingmoney.”The notice is signed byMick LaFevers who ownsthe Tote-A-Poke stores.Attempts to reach LaFeversto ask what prompted thesigns were unsuccessful.Since the sign wasplaced at the stores thePDN has been bombardedwith calls from peopleclaiming that they havefallen victim to the threepeople named on the sign.The Poteau Daily Newsran a story in February2010 regarding formerPoteau Police DetectiveSteve Tiffee who had beenarrested on a felony chargeof uttering bogus checks.According to the informationgiven to PDN at thattime by LeFlore CountySheriff Bruce Currnutt,there had been reports thatTiffee had been solicitingpeople around the area togive him money to assisthim.“Tiffee has allegedlybeen going to businessesand homes introducinghimself as a retired policeofficer and has asked formoney to help him duringseparate emergency situations,”Curnutt told PDNin 2010. He went on to saythat people had steppedforward, contacting theSheriff’s Department afterthey reportedly gave Tiffeemoney then attempted tostop payment only to findhe had allegedly alreadycashed the checks theyhad written to him.Tiffee is on probationfor that charge.Terri Tiffee and her sonTyler are also on probationstemming from acharge of being in possessionof drugs.PDN has receivednumerous calls from citizenswith stories of thosesimilar to what Curnuttspoke about in 2010regarding all three of theTiffee’s. The newspaperhas learned that severallaw enforcement agenciesaround the county havereceived complaints aswell.The question that mostpeople ask is why haven’tcharges been filed.PDN spoke with LeFloreCounty District AttorneyJeff Smith on Wednesdayabout the matter. He statedthat he too has been toldstories regarding scams bythe Tiffees over the lasttwo years. He said that hisoffice had contacted anoutside agency aboutinvestigating the mattermore than 18 months agobut that request wasdeclined.“We are not an investigatingbody,” Smith said.According to the DA’soffice there are two typesof charges that manyscammers fall underaccording to the law. Theyare operating a con game,and obtaining money byfalse pretenses. The problemwith proving eithercharge is that you have toovercome the fact that inmany cases the money thatis transferred is a gift.There are no legal or bindingcontracts. Legally theDA would also have toprove that the reason aperson obtained the moneywas false.In order for the office toprove a case of false pretensesthey must firstknow what pretense wasused. Which means thatcitizens are going to haveto come forward to theirlocal law enforcementagencies and make an officialreport. Smith said iflocal and county lawenforcement will submitthose reports to his officeit would help establish apattern of behavior and hisoffice would then be ableto attempt to make a case.“We have done at thispoint all that we know todo,” he said. “We cannotprosecute anyone for anyalleged crime if we don’thave information that willallow us to prove without a reasonable doubt that theycommitted a crime.”Smith said the only way his office can obtain thatinformation is for victims to come forward with theirstatements and for law enforcement to turn those reportsover to his office. He said his office has heard storiesfor the last two years regarding scams of this nature butthey have to be able to prove the accusations beforecharges can be filed.“We want justice for these people,” Smith said. “Andwe have all heard the stories but we have to have officialinformation in order to do our job.”PDN contacted the LeFlore County Sheriff’sDepartment and the Poteau Police Department regardingthe accusations being made and were assured thatany reports made would be given to the DA’s office forprosecution. Attempts to contact the Tiffees were unsuccessful.