County Commissioner Tuttle arrested

Published 2:34 pm Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Albert Lea police arrested Freeborn County Commissioner Linda Tuttle on Tuesday in connection with fraud allegations.

Albert Lea police and agents from the Minnesota Division of Insurance Fraud Prevention were inside and outside the downtown businesses of Albert Lea Abstract and Strong Agency Inc. starting Tuesday morning. The Division of Insurance Fraud Prevention is part of the Department of Commerce.

Albert Lea Police Chief Dwaine Winkels said search warrants were executed on the two businesses for two separate and unrelated investigations. An Albert Lea Police Department news release states search warrants were executed on three residences, too.

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Tuttle, 1508 Ashley Court in Albert Lea, is the owner of Albert Lea Abstract. The 59-year-old is in her first term as commissioner for District 5, which covers Pickerel Lake Township except for Conger and covers the south side of Albert Lea and a strip west of Highway 13.

Arrested Tuesday in connection with the investigation at Strong Agency Inc. were Reid Nelson, 57, and Deb Stolarcek, 55.

All three were held in Freeborn County jail Tuesday evening pending charges.

“Police were investigating allegations of insurance fraud and theft by the detained individuals,” the news release states.

The Steele County Attorney’s Office is expected to file charges in Freeborn County District Court on Wednesday, Winkels said. The Police Department issued the news release at about 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Winkels said it is just a coincidence that their addresses are next to each other. Strong Agency is at 209 S. Washington Ave. Albert Lea Abstract is at 205 S. Washington Ave. Both businesses were closed for the afternoon. The closure of the abstract and title firm left workers in the real estate business in Albert Lea with questions of what to do next.

A U-Haul truck was parked on Washington Avenue immediately in front of Albert Lea Abstract. Division of Insurance Fraud Prevention agents wheeled computers and boxes of files from the business onto the truck Tuesday afternoon.

A sign in the door at Albert Lea Abstract on Tuesday said the business is closed. Around noon, people coming for property closings were surprised to find the doors locked. Inside, state and city investigators were rummaging through files and interviewing employees.

Winkels said the Division of Insurance Fraud Prevention assisted the Albert Lea Police Department in the investigation of both cases. He said the financial records were taken as evidence and will be analyzed. People were brought to the Law Enforcement Center for questioning. Others were interviewed at the place of business.

The chief said the investigation at Strong Agency, an insurance firm, stems from the theft charges agent Reid Nelson, son of owner Roger Nelson and brother of Freeborn County Attorney Craig Nelson, faces. (The county attorney is not prosecuting the case.) Stolarcek, also an agent at Strong Agency, is the daughter of Roger Nelson and sister of Reid and Craig Nelson.

Winkels confirmed that Roger Nelson was brought in for questioning but was not detained.

Reid Curtis Nelson, 57, already is accused of taking $31,857 from the former owners of the Town House Apartments, 206 and 208 W. College St. According to the court files, the theft came in the form of writing checks for personal interests on the bank account of the apartments he managed. He faces five felony counts of theft and one gross misdemeanor count of theft. These charges were filed at the end of April. Nelson had been free on a conditional bail.

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About Tim Engstrom

Tim Engstrom is the editor of the Albert Lea Tribune. He resides in Albert Lea with his wife, two sons and dog.

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