Woman accused of check forging pleads guilty

Published 2:15 pm Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Albert Lea woman who is accused of forging checks that belonged to the deceased father of a tornado victim pleaded guilty in Freeborn County District Court on Friday to an amended count of felony forgery as part of a plea agreement in the case.

Michelle VanRiper

The plea covers a series of forged checks dating back to June for this man and various others.

Michelle Marie VanRiper, 31, agreed in court Friday there are at least $1,500 in checks that she forged from various accounts.

Email newsletter signup

According to the agreement, VanRiper pleaded guilty to the one count in exchange for serving no additional executed jail time. She also agreed to pay restitution for each forged check.

She will be released from prison Nov. 22 on a separate charge, and is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 18, 2011.

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.

After she is released from prison in November, VanRiper must check in with court services at least once per week in the weeks leading up to her sentencing and not leave the state, among other conditions.