Albert Lea woman placed on probation for check fraud

Published 7:21 pm Friday, December 16, 2016

An Albert Lea woman charged with passing and offering fraudulent checks was placed on probation for up to 10 years Thursday in Freeborn County District Court.

Heather Marie Brigston, 26, was sentenced to 90 days in jail. Thirty days were stayed, and she was given credit for 60 days served.

She pleaded guilty to possessing with the intent to offer a forged check in October.

Heather Brigston

Heather Brigston

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Court documents state Brigston was charged after several fraudulent checks were reportedly identified as being cashed and offered by her Aug. 1, including a check for $399.15, and checks offered for $367.88, $52.49 and $141.08.

Court documents state a search warrant of Brigston’s van found a new Canon printer in an opened box, along with a personal and business check starter pack, blank checks printed on pink, butterfly-patterned paper bearing the name Melissa Hernandez and a black blue-check paper used for the fraudulent checks offered in July by Brigston, Ryan Johnson and Hernandez.

Fraudulent checks printed on the paper were reportedly made out to Brigston for $398.91, $492.57, $763.46, $468.98, $392.58, $199.83, $480.19 and two checks each written for $504.17 and for $678.52.

A witness who manages a convenience store in Albert Lea reported that a check cashed by Brigston for $386.37 was returned by a bank.

She was originally charged with two counts of offering a forged check, two counts of aiding and abetting offering a forged check, issuing a dishonored check, theft by false representation, attempting to issue a dishonored check and attempted theft by false representation, but those charges were dismissed.

Melissa Lynn Hernandez is charged with offering a forged check and issuing a dishonored check in connection with the case.

A settlement conference for Hernandez is scheduled for Jan. 25, and a jury trial is scheduled for April, if the case has not been settled by then.

Ryan Johnson has been charged with one count of felony offering a forged check in connection with the case. His next appearance is scheduled for Dec. 28.

Wendy Woodson is charged with issuing a dishonored check in connection with the case. A settlement conference is scheduled for Jan. 5.

Brigston was placed on probation for two years Thursday in a separate file after pleading guilty in October to gross misdemeanor issuing a dishonored check. She was sentenced to one year in jail on the file, with 308 days stayed. She was given credit for 57 days served.

She was also placed on probation for one year on Thursday after pleading guilty to fifth-degree controlled substance possession in a separate file. On that file, she was sentenced to 43 days in jail and was given credit for 43 days served.

One count of felony issuing a dishonored check was dismissed in a separate file.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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