An Alexandria grand jury has indicted a Connecticut man on seven counts of writing bad checks, the result of a one-day shopping spree through several antique shops in Old Town.
Alexandria police said Kimberly W. Wadhams, whom store owners describe as a tall, dapper man with an expert's eye for silver and 18th century figurines, wrote 12 checks on Nov. 15.
Nine merchants have lost more than $3,500 so far as a result of the bad checks, according to Alexandria police investigator James Bland. "But I'm sure that we are going to get a lot more when the store owners have gotten all of their checks back," Bland said. "It could go as high as $15,000 or $20,000."
Police say Wadhams has not been seen in the area since Nov. 15. The indictment was handed down Monday.
Store owners in the King Street shopping area filed complaints with city police after Wadhams' checks, drawn on the United Bank and Trust Co. of Bristol, Conn., bounced.
Lenore Binzer, owner of Lenore & Daughters, said she rarely accepts checks from out-of-state customers. "But he was handsome, debonaire and beautifully dressed," she said.
Just before closing Binzer accepted a personal check from Wadhams for $722.80 in payment for two 18th century sulver spoons and a cheese scoop. About two weeks later, Binzer said, the check bounced.
Binzer said she called an officer at the Connecticut bank and was told the account had been closed on Sept. 18 because of the bad check problem.
Harold Herman, co-owner of Two Harolds, sold Wadhams two 18th century ceramic, Royal Doulton figurines for $350.
After Wadhams' check was returned for insufficient funds, Herman and his partner, Harold Mayes, said they sent a registered letter to Wadhams' home but the letter came back stamped "No such address."
For identification, several store owners said Wadhams, who claimed to be a nurse, carried a Connecticut driver's license and an employe's card from the Waterbury Health and Hospital Center.
William Derr, the Waterbury Hospital administrator, said Wadhams last worked there more than a year ago; he would not say why Wadhams left.
Binzer and Herman both described Wadhams as a friendly, articulate man who told them he was shopping for his wife. But they disagree on one characteristic -- his beard.
"I'm sure he had a full beard," said Binzer.
"He definitely was clean shaven," Herman said.
Investigator Bland said checks allegedly written by Wadhams have been returned to Lenore and Daughters, two dealers at Monument Antiques, Two Harolds, Heinly's Country Store, Old Town Gift Shop, Bachelors Two and Angie's Doll Boutique.
According to several Connecticut police departments, Wadhams is a native of Torrington, Conn., where his father, Richard Wadhams, owns a car repair shop.
In a telephone interview this week, Richard Wadhams said he does not know where his son is. Five or six years ago, he said, his son began writing bad checks and organizing fraudulent investment schemes after losing more than $18,000 in gambling debts.
"He lost everyting he had -- his home, his wife and job," said Wadhams. "If I could do anything to help find him, I would. His mother is quite upset, of course, about the way he turned out. But I haven't seen him in six months."
There are at least three warrants for Wadhams outstanding in his home state of Connecticut:
Lt. Leo Herbette, of the Derby, Conn., police department, said police there have two arrest warrants for a Kimberly Wayne Wadhams, of 192 Kaynor Drive in Waterbury -- one for fraud and another for writing bad checks. Officer Steve Lulikowski, of Avon, Conn., said Wadhams faces felony charges for passing bad checks in that city.
In addition, Wadhams apparently was convicted of writing bad checks in New Haven, Conn., two years ago. Lt. Michael Tullo, of New Haven, said a man named Kimberly Wayne Wadhams, age 31, was found guilty of two counts of writing bad checks in October 1979.