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Police impostor spotted in NW Kansas

By DARCY GRAY

Special to The Hays Daily News

Authorities said an ex-convict allegedly posing as a law enforcement officer has been trying to cash phony checks across the state and last was reported to be in western Kansas.

A citizen's alert issued Tuesday by the Garden City Police Department stated the Kansas Bureau of Investigation is asking for help finding Robert Wayne Helms, 45.

Steve Bundy, KBI senior special agent, confirmed Helms last was reported to have passed phony checks Friday at retail stores in Russell and Scott City -- and this time, the fake checks bore Bundy's name on them.

"He's attempted to use my identity," Bundy acknowledged, adding that Helms probably had become irritated by his working the case.

Helms allegedly is passing both phony personal checks and phony payroll checks from the Adams County Sheriff's Office, which doesn't exist. However, five places in Kansas have cashed the phony payroll checks for Helms, Bundy said. Helms has targeted ALCO stores and similar retailers, according to a KBI news release.

"He prints checks that are fictitious in nature to accounts that do not exist," Bundy said of Helms. "He typically buys gift cards, flat-screens and other electronics, which he then sells to pawn shops.

"He made some recovery at pawn shops in Lawrence and possibly Joplin, Mo."

Helms reportedly shows a badge and sidearm, and preys on community members' trust of law enforcement, Bundy said. He was reportedly spotted Jan. 26 in Hugoton trying to cash a payroll check, and last week, the Associated Press reported police in Lyons and Belle Plaine were investigating similar cases allegedly involving Helms. The crime spree started Jan. 6 in Girard, according to Bundy.

Although Helms last was reported in western Kansas, Bundy said doesn't mean Helms is still here.

"It's hard to tell where he is now," Bundy said.

The KBI is assisting law enforcement agencies across the state due to Helms' extensive travels. According to Bundy, Helms allegedly has "hammered western Kansas" and is suspected of trying to pass checks in the following cities: Ulysses, Meade, Russell, Scott City, Pratt, Kingman, Louisburg, Garnett, Phillipsburg, Smith Center, Beloit, Sabetha, Holton, Eureka, Belle Plaine, Anthony, Ark City, Girard, Blue Rapids, Clay Center, Hugoton, Lyons and Bella Vista, Ark.

The bank names used on phony checks allegedly passed by Helms include: the Bank of America in Coffeyville, the First State Bank of Norton, the United Federal Banks of Pleasanton, Stockton, Osborne, Concordia and Horton, and the Peoples Bank & Trust in Medilla, the KBI reported.

Helms is described as 5 feet, 7 inches tall, weighing 190 pounds, with blue eyes and short, gray hair.

He is known to wear round glasses and looks older than his age, and has recently been seen driving a maroon minivan. He absconded from parole supervision in November, according to Kansas Department of Corrections records, and has prior convictions for kidnapping, forgeries, thefts and unlawful possession of firearms.

Anyone with knowledge of Helms' whereabouts is asked to call their local law enforcement agency. Anyone wishing to give anonymous information about Helms to call local law enforcement or the KBI at (800) KS-CRIME.