East Hempfield man in bad-check scam gets probation

Nathan Fisher

An East Hempfield Township man was paroled Friday after spending six months in prison for using bad checks to pay for a lavish lifestyle.

Nathan Tyler Fisher, 22, will now serve 6 years' probation for buying a home, luxury cars and other items with his 19-year-old wife, Tess Fisher.

The couple made the purchases - more than $125,000 worth - knowing the checks were written on closed or insufficient accounts, Nathan Fisher told a judge Friday morning. Fisher pleaded guilty to writing bad checks, ID theft, conspiracy and theft by deception.

Fisher had an "alter-ego" that made him obsessed with having expensive things, defense lawyer Cory Miller told county Judge Dennis Reinaker.

"He was feeling important through these acts," Miller said. "He does this by living an alter-ego. He wants the nice cars, the nice house ... ."

"Who doesn't want that?" Reinaker interjected before ordering the probation sentence.

Fisher said he was diagnosed with bipolar, obsessive-compulsive and personality disorders and stopped taking his medication last year while a student at Mercyhurst College in Erie.

Soon after, he and his wife made a number of purchases here and in three other counties, it was said in court.

In Lancaster County, they issued $125,407 in bad checks, according to testimony. They made much smaller purchases in Dauphin, Cumberland and Erie counties.

"This looks like a professional act, but it's just the opposite," Miller said, stressing that his client was mentally ill and irrational during the spending spree last summer.

Paid for with the checks were three cars - a Mercedes-Benz, a Hummer sport-utility vehicle and an Audi - a $15,000 down payment on a house, $30,000 in home goods and other items.

Fisher was ordered to pay $16,789 in restitution. That sum would have been much larger, but the Fishers returned all the items except for a furniture set, Miller said afterward. Also, Miller noted, Interiors home goods store didn't deliver the furniture when staff became suspicious of a $30,000 check.

Fisher, wearing glasses and clean-shaven with short hair, spoke in a whisper throughout the hearing; Reinaker asked him multiple times to speak louder.

Fisher wept as he discussed his mental-health condition and how his behavior changed when he stopped taking his medication.

"I know I have a problem," he told the judge.

He told Reinaker that his wife had a baby girl last fall, the couple's first child. Fisher hasn't yet seen the child, he told the judge.

"I just want to support my wife and my daughter," Fisher said. "I want to pay back all restitution and get everything behind me."

Miller said his client was "scared to death" to be in prison.

Reinaker said that Fisher seemed remorseful.

"I see lots of people that recognize their mistakes when they're in your position," Reinaker said.

Along with the probation and restitution order, Reinaker made it mandatory that Fisher take his medication while living with his grandparents in Lewisburg.

Tess Fisher, also charged in the spree, is free on unsecured bail to care for her daughter. Her case is expected to be resolved by the end of the month, according to her attorney.