An upstate man convicted of stealing checks from the mail in the Aiken area in October 2005 could be heading back to prison.


Stephen Henry Finch, 38, pleaded guilty in 2009 to two counts of unlawfully being in possession of personal checks which had been stolen from the U.S. mail. He served his prison term but now could be sent back to prison for violating the conditions of his release.


On Dec. 21, a warrant for Finch’s arrest was executed, and he was placed in custody to await a hearing on his violation of supervised release – a federal, parole-like system.


The conditions of Finch’s release included completing drug rehabilitation, not using illegal narcotics and beginning to pay off his $11,736.91 of restitution.


In October, Leigh H. Denton of the U.S. Probation Office petitioned the court for a warrant to be issued after Finch had absconded from supervision, tested positive for amphetamine and methamphetamine, failed to pay restitution and was terminated from his drug treatment program.


He will be detained until a violation hearing can be held. He has been appointed counsel by the court and is facing a prison term if a judge rules that his violation was serious.


Upon revocation of supervised release, a defendant convicted of Finch’s original crime may be sentenced up to two years in prison, as his offense is a class D felony. This is in addition to any sentence that may be imposed for a new crime, if he is charged related to the alleged drug use. Unlike at a criminal trial, a person charged with violating the conditions faces the burden of proof of showing by clear and convincing evidence at a detention hearing that he is not a flight risk or danger to the community.


Finch went to prison for knowingly possessing stolen checks from the mail around the Aiken area. Over a 28-day period, Finch passed nine checks at banks in Aiken, North Augusta, Warrenville and Graniteville after he had stolen them. Each check earned Finch a count of the charge, but all but two were dropped as part of a plea deal.


Finch would look for mailboxes with outgoing mail and steal from them. Then, he would search it for checks, wash those checks and write them to himself in varying amounts. The amount stolen was in excess of $10,000, according to court documents and testimony from the prosecution.