Woman sentenced for check forgery

Published 12:44pm Saturday, February 5, 2011

Freeborn County District Court Judge Steve Schwab sentenced an Albert Lea woman to probation and restitution this week for forging numerous checks last year — including some she found in the rubble of the June 17 tornadoes.

Michelle VanRiper

Michelle Marie VanRiper, 31, will be on probation for up to five years and has been ordered to pay restitution of $1,679 to the businesses where she tried to pass the forged checks.

She will not have to serve any additional jail time unless she violates her probation.

The sentence comes after VanRiper pleaded guilty in October to an amended count of felony forgery as part of a plea agreement.

The plea covered a series of forged checks dating back to June.

VanRiper was initially arrested for this case at the end of June after she attempted to pass a forged check at Hy-Vee Gas in the name of Garland Graves, who died in March. The checks had been at the home of Graves’ daughter, Bambi Graves, on Freeborn County Road 46, before it was leveled June 17.

VanRiper reportedly found the checks in tornado debris.

Police stated they had been investigating VanRiper for a separate string of alleged forgeries prior to that, and businesses were on the alert in case she were to attempt it again.

On June 24, an employee at Kwik Trip on Front Street reported VanRiper using a forged check from Graves and on Saturday an alert came from Hy-Vee Gas that she was attempting it again. At that point she was arrested.

VanRiper has previously been convicted of theft by check in 2008 and has several dishonored checks on her file.

As part of VanRiper’s sentencing, Schwab ordered that VanRiper also obey all laws, report to her probation agent, obtain permission before leaving the state, not use controlled substances, submit to random testing, not use or possess any firearms and complete five days of Sentencing to Service.

She also must complete a dialectical behavior therapy program, get a full-time job and pay $80 in court costs.

She is getting credit for serving 152 days in jail.

Her probation will run at the same time as another case VanRiper had already been convicted for.