LAKE WALES. Detectives with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office arrested 38-year-old Joseph Patrick Cavanagh of 3 North Lakeshore Blvd, Lake Wales today. On December 21, 2003, Cavanagh wrote a check for merchandise totaling $190.80 to Inglenook Antiques and Collectibles, 3607 North Scenic Highway, Lake-of-the-Hills, Lake Wales. The check was written from the personal checking account of John J. Maclean, formerly of Valrico, Florida. Maclean has been deceased since November 28, 2002. Maclean is Cavanagh’s wife’s deceased grandfather.
The owner of the antique shop, Ms Robin Carnill of Lake Wales, and Karl Weber of Lake Wales, who was in the shop at the time Cavanagh wrote the check, positively identified Cavanagh as the man who represented himself as Maclean. Cavanagh wrote a fictitious driver’s license number on the check. Weber helped Cavanagh load the purchased items into Cavanagh’s 2002 white Chrysler mini-van.
Detectives recovered the items purchased from the antique shop from Cavanagh’s home, including two antique chairs, an antique cocktail glass, and a set of antique steak knives. Cavanagh denies writing a check from Maclean’s account for the items and claims that he paid for the items in cash. He further claimed that he had some of his deceased grandfather-in-law’s checks in his possession (in his white mini-van) at the time (over a year after Maclean’s death) and that a check must have either fallen out or was taken and someone else wrote the check.
Detectives were able to locate Cavanagh because he had previously made a purchase from the antique shop when he used his own checkbook. Cavanagh is a volunteer Police Chaplain at the Lake Wales Police Department. Cavanagh claims to be an ordained minister. According to detectives, Cavanagh is not currently employed.
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