William Ferguson, the former owner of Bush & Kennedy Inc., a Baton Rouge, La.-based collection agency, has been charged with bank fraud and aggravated identity theft that allegedly cost Hancock Bank more than $126,000.

The indictment alleges that Ferguson opened an account at Hancock Bank in the name of his collection company then allegedly wrote and deposited checks to his company in the names of other people and companies portrayed as customers. The LaPlace, La. resident appeared appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen C. Riedlinger this week.

The judge noted that Ferguson was accused of 61 counts of bank fraud and three counts of aggravated identity theft. He is scheduled for trial on Sept. 6.

Louisiana District Judge Mike Caldwell ordered Bush & Kennedy to stop doing business in December 2009 after the Louisiana Attorney General's office charged the firm with using deceptive business practices. According to media reports, Ferguson most recently was employed with collection agency Franklin, Grant & Associates Inc.

Ferguson could not be reached for comment and at press time it was not immediately clear if the current charges are related to his work at Bush & Kennedy or another firm.

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