Another bottom feeder in Cartoon County….or, scavengers as the article says.

Woman pleads guilty to forgery of checks stolen after apartment fire
By Pine Journal on Nov 14, 2015 at 10:13 p.m.

A Duluth woman faces sentencing next month in Carlton County after pleading guilty to stealing and using checks from a fire-damaged Cloquet apartment in August.

Michelle Marie Mehle, 32, is charged with felony check forgery, which carries a penalty of up to five years in jail and a $10,000 fine.

According to the criminal complaint, two forged checks — one for $653.11 and another for $399.49 — surfaced in Duluth, and it was discovered that they were stolen from Cloquet residents after a fire in their Laurel Street apartment building in August.

The apartment building at 777 Laurel St. was vacated after the fire and the subsequent smoke and water damage rendered it uninhabitable. The empty building drew scavengers, who helped themselves to residents’ belongings that were still inside, including checks and credit cards.

“A few days after the fire when the building was empty, credit cards, Social Security numbers and property were stolen,” Cloquet Police Chief Steve Stracek said.

Cloquet police officer Scott Beckman began an investigation into the thefts at the end of August. Beckman interviewed several residents, who said they also had checks stolen from their apartments.

Beckman then learned that two of the residents’ stolen checks had surfaced in Duluth. After reviewing video, Mehle was identified as the forger of the stolen checks. Mehle already was in custody in Superior on charges of check fraud.

“City of Duluth officers searched Mehle’s vehicle and located several items belonging to residents of the apartment building, linking her to the burglaries at 777 Laurel Street,” the criminal complaint stated.

The total amount of the forged checks in Minnesota was $1,052.60 over a six-month period.

Mehle pleaded guilty and waived several of her rights including a jury trial Oct. 5 in front of Judge Robert Macaulay.

Mehle is due back in Carlton County Court for sentencing Dec. 14.

Court records indicate that Mehle has been charged with several other financial crimes in St. Louis County this year. She faces numerous charges of theft, check forgery and financial transaction card fraud in four separate cases pending in Duluth.

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