A Florida woman is facing new charges in connection to an alleged case of identity theft that took place in Owatonna, Faribault and Northfield.
Deborah Darlene Grant, 55, of Fort Lauderdale, was charged Wednesday in Rice County District Court with one count of identity theft, one count of theft by check, and one count of fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle, all felonies. She was also charged with one gross misdemeanor count of fifth-degree drug possession. These charges are in addition to the charges Grant received Oct. 25 in Steele County District court for check forgery and identity theft, both felonies.
The charges in both cases are connected to an investigation that took place Oct. 19-22.
According to the criminal complaints, Faribault police were notified Oct. 21 of a potential fraud that occurred at the local HomeTown Credit Union, where a blonde woman cashed a check for $2,500 made out to an individual named "Wendy." The suspect, later identified as Grant, also presented Wendy's driver's license and social security card. The check was flag as suspicious and, according to court documents, the same person had been in a few days prior for a check fraud case.
Officers ran the license plate captured on security footage at the credit union and the came back as stolen from a vehicle in Steele County, according to the report.
Police reportedly spoke with the victims of the identity Grant was using, who said not checks had been made out to her recently and that she was out of town, along with the victims of the names on the checks, who reported a purse that had been stolen on Oct. 16 and their accounts had been canceled that day.
On Oct. 22, Northfield police were dispatched to the local HomeTown Credit Union on a report of someone attempted to cash a check with a stolen identity. Dispatch reportedly advised the suspect was the same person, Grant, from the incident in Faribault. When police arrived to the business, they allegedly observed the suspect vehicle driving away on Highway 3 and initiated a traffic stop. According to court documents, Grant pulled over to the side of the road before speeding off, reaching 100 mph on Highway 3. Police had to call off the pursuit when they lost sight of the vehicle after following it for several miles.
A short time later, Faribault police reportedly stopped the vehicle at the Truck Center Company and had Grant in custody. Grant allegedly told law enforcement she had just been released from prison in Florida. A search of her vehicle revealed methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia and two US Bank checks made out to "Wendy" in the amount of $2,000 each, dated Oct. 21, according to court documents. Also reportedly located in the vehicle was a blonde wig.
Northfield police interviewed staff from HomeTown Credit Union, who allegedly said Grant had been at the business the day prior to cash a check made out to "Wendy" in the amount of $2,300. On Oct. 22, Grant was reportedly trying to cash a second check made out to "Wendy" in the amount of $2,500. Both pictures of Grant during the transactions in Northfield showed her to be wearing a blonde wig, according to the report.
Also on Oct. 21, Owatonna police were dispatched to the local HomeTown Credit Union for a report of a check forgery. According to the complaint, local officers had already been notified by Northfield Police Department of an incident with Grant attempting to use someone else's identity and crashing fraudulent checks.
The reporting party at the Owatonna branch allegedly told police the victim reported her purse stolen and two weeks later someone tried to case a check for $2,300 and another for $1,900. Grant reportedly came through the drive through with a canceled debit card, tried to get an account number and made an additional case withdrawal of $2,500.
Later that day, around 4:30 p.m., Owatonna police were notified by Kwik Trip North of a suspicious woman asking truckers for a ride to Florida. Officers located Grant near the diesel pumps with a hospital blanket wrapped around her and was taken into custody, according to the report.
According to court records, HomeTown Credit Union is out a total of $9,900 between the three branches.
Grant is currently in custody at the Steele County Detention Center and bail without conditions has been set at $30,000. Her next court appearance in Steele County is scheduled for Feb. 24.