Prosecutor says files in Tuttle case are ample

Published 3:11 pm Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Steele County Attorney Dan MacIntosh, representing the prosecution in the Linda Tuttle case, said there is “voluminous” discovery.

Tuttle, a Freeborn County commissioner, was charged last month with felony theft through her title company. She appeared with her lawyer in Freeborn County District Court on Tuesday for what was a standard hearing in the court system.

Tuttle, who was not in custody, also was at the hearing with her husband.

Email newsletter signup

During the appearance, Tuttle’s lawyer, Peggy Rockow, requested a default omnibus hearing for her client within 28 days. Rockow said she had received a packet of discovery about the case from the Steele County Attorney’s Office — which is charging the case — and she anticipated more.

Discovery is courtroom jargon for documents and evidence relative to the case.

Other people interested in the case — including a handful of members of the Freeborn County Humane Society, a police detective and others who have been personally affected by the charges — were also in attendance.

Depending on what discovery she receives, Rockow said, she could still request a contested hearing, when she would question the admissibility of certain evidence; however, she would notify the court if that were the case.

The default hearing is tentatively scheduled for 1 p.m. July 19.

The theft charge comes after police executed a search warrant on June 22 at Tuttle’s company, Albert Lea Abstract. During that search, authorities seized computers and scores of files in connection to the criminal investigation.

Because of allegations of theft, Tuttle’s bank accounts were frozen the same afternoon. Several closings were delayed and additional questions surfaced for people who may have wired money in the hours prior to the arrest or who had given responsibilities to the title company to pay final mortgage payments or other aspects of closings.

Specifically, she is accused of one count of felony theft of about $48,000, though police officials say more charges are likely as the investigation continues.

The police investigation presently alleges that between January and June of this year she took from six bank accounts to deal with her reported gambling debt at the Diamond Jo Casino seven miles west of Northwood, Iowa.

The means by which she reportedly took the funds is called “check kiting.” She allegedly transferred funds out of escrow accounts into Albert Lea Abstract’s business accounts, after which she wrote checks to herself or made cash withdrawals, according to police reports.

Before Tuttle’s appearance Tuesday, a handful of Freeborn County Humane Society members stood in front of the Freeborn County courthouse with a sign about the allegations.

The Humane Society found out last week that the $150,000 given to the organization by an anonymous donor for an addition to the Albert Lea Animal Shelter may likely be gone for good. The organization had opted to put the money in an escrow account with Albert Lea Abstract so it would be available when it was needed for construction.

Karen Meyerson, one member of the Humane Society, asked why the money did not have some kind of consumer protection, such as being bonded. She said the organization put the money in an escrow account at the company in good faith.

Reid Nelson

Albert Lea insurance agent Reid Nelson — who faces one count of insurance fraud and one count of aggravated forgery after a separate police search was conducted at Strong Agency Inc. on June 22 — also appeared in Freeborn County District Court on Tuesday with his lawyer.

A default omnibus hearing is tentatively scheduled for 1 p.m. Aug. 2.

The Steele County Attorney’s Office is also prosecuting this case because Nelson is the brother of the Freeborn County attorney, which presents a conflict.