After 23 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit, Darryl Fulton suffered far more “inconvenience” than any person should ever have to endure. But he had yet to deal with Chase.
“I’m just trying to deposit my check,” Fulton said. “I just wanted to be treated like anyone else.”
[Fulton’s lawyer] Kathleen Zellner criticized Chase for not allowing Fulton to deposit a $169,876 check from the state at its bank branch on 79th Street and Cicero Avenue, questioning whether racism played a part. The first time Fulton tried to deposit the money, Zellner said, the bank said she would have to endorse the check because her firm’s name was under his, though Fulton’s name was on the “pay to the order of” line.
Lest there be any confusion, the firm’s name was printed in the portion of the check reflecting where it was mailed, nothing more. It’s almost as if Chase has never seen a mailed check before.
The second time, Zellner said, Chase contended Fulton signed above her name and the check would need to be deposited in her account. Zellner got on the phone with the bank but employees wouldn’t deposit it, she said.
Why would a bank give a person making a deposit such grief? Well, because they can is always an easy answer, but the more nefarious reason is that a black guy with a huge check to be deposited emits the scent of potential fraud, a possible loss for the bank if there was a subsequent problem with the check and the funds were withdrawn.
After all, why would this guy possibly have a check in that large a sum?
Fulton, released from prison in November, has been working at a factory in the near western suburbs.
Fulton spent 23 years behind bars for the 1994 slaying of Antwinica Bridgeman, who disappeared after her 20th birthday party in Englewood.
Fulton confessed, though he claimed the confession was coerced. Back then, nobody believed such claims, but then came DNA.
Fulton and Coleman were sentenced to life in prison for the murder, but recently discovered DNA evidence matched a serial rapist. Prosecutors dropped charges against the men last winter, and in March a Cook County judge awarded the men certificates of innocence. Each man has a civil rights lawsuit pending against the city of Chicago.
Their release only took 23 years. It’s unclear whether the state ever apologized for the inconvenience. But Chase did, after it was outed.
In a statement, Chase said it “should have accepted (Fulton’s) check during his initial visit.” The bank did not specifically address whether Fulton’s race was a factor.
“We did offer to deposit the check on his return visit and have reached out to him to clear up any confusion,” the bank said. “We regret the error and apologize for the inconvenience.”
There was no “confusion” to clear up. They refused to accept a deposit to cover their own sorry butts for fear some black guy was pulling a scam on them with his big money check. Chase didn’t get to be a huge bank by taking fraud losses, and they weren’t about to take a hit from Fulton’s deposit this time.
But is it “inconvenience” for Fulton, after spending 23 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit, to have to suffer the indignity of a bank teller refusing to deposit his check? For Chase, that’s the best it can muster.