Insurance agent pleads guilty to forgery, theft

Published 9:22 am Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Albert Lea insurance agent Reid Nelson pleaded guilty earlier this month to one count of aggravated forgery and one count of theft, both felonies, as part of a plea agreement between his lawyer and the Steele County Attorney’s Office.

The agreement incorporated two separate files of charges that Nelson faced.

He is expected to be sentenced at 2:30 p.m. Aug. 1.

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For one file, Nelson, 58, pleaded guilty to aggravated forgery in exchange for having one charge of insurance fraud dismissed.

Court records state Nelson failed to insure liability through his company, Strong Agency Inc., for a construction company even though the company made its payments. He also provided fake certificates of insurance to the company.

In the second file, Nelson pleaded guilty to one count of felony theft in exchange for having five other counts of felony theft dismissed.

In this file, Nelson took more than $30,000 from the former owners of the Town House Apartments, a complex which he managed on College Street. He reportedly wrote checks for personal interests on the bank account of the apartments he managed.

Nelson’s lawyer, Thomas Kraus of Waseca, and the Steele County Attorney’s Office, who is prosecuting the case, are recommending that jail time be suspended for Nelson except for 90 days in jail for each count. The sentences would be served concurrently, and he would get credit for one day in the Freeborn County jail.

The lawyers did not make a recommendation on any of the fines or restitution for the aggravated forgery file. However, for the theft file, they recommended Nelson make restitution on all of the counts of theft, even though he pled guilty to only one count.

The Steele County Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the case because Nelson is the brother of the Freeborn County attorney.

Nelson was initially charged with the theft counts in April 2010. He was arrested for insurance fraud and aggravated forgery in June 2010 after a search of his insurance company.