Fifth Third Bank Has Mexican-American Arrested For Cashing Government Check

Allan Lengel, Deadline Detroit

Her attorney calls it a case of “banking while Hispanic.”

Erandy Pacheco, a Mexican American, calls it one of the great humiliations of her life.

Pacheco, 35, a Spanish-speaking translator, had stopped at the Fifth Third Bank on Coolidge in Berkley June 20 to deposit a U.S. Treasury check for just under $10,000 she received for work on a criminal case for the U.S. District Court in Detroit.

Instead, she was arrested, handcuffed in the bank and taken to the Berkley police station on suspicion of trying to pass off a fraudulent check.

Problem was, the check was real.

“It was the most shocking moments of my life,” said Pacheco, who has lived in the U.S. since December 2006.

She believes the bank overreacted because she is Hispanic.

“There’s no other explanation,” she said.  “I understand if they thought the check was suspicious, but I don’t understand how I was suspicious.”

Her lawyer, Jack L. Jaffe, who filed a lawsuit in Oakland County Circuit Court this week against the bank and police department for falsely accusing her of passing a bad check, echoes her sentiments.

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