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Anoka County clerk pleads guilty to white collar crime

A clerk who worked for Anoka County recently plead guilty to one white collar crime charge and two others were dismissed. The woman adjusted the status of various marriage certificates in the county as a way to gain some extra cash. The 52-year-old woman made just over $7,000 over the three years she fraudulently changed marriage license applications. The woman faces up to 45 days in jail.

The 52-year-old woman worked as a clerk in the Anoka County’s vital statistics department. During her time there from January 2008 to October 2010 she fraudulently adjusted the marriage applications of 160 engaged couples. Couples who marry need to file a marriage license application with the county and the county charges a fee for doing so. While it is not clear why the woman engaged in her fraudulent practice it is clear the woman used the application process to gain a little extra money.

According to an assistant county attorney in Anoka County, the woman took advantage of a $60 marriage license discount that couples receive when they complete 12 hours of premarital counseling. For some couples who did not complete the counseling, the woman would create fake paperwork and keep the extra money. Every county in Minnesota is required to offer the $60 marriage license discount if the couple completes the approved counseling. Overall, the woman used four different strategies to gain money from the marriage license application process.

In the majority of cases, the woman recorded a $40 fee payment though the couples paid the full $110. In 38 cases, she forged the fee waiver statements, but each couple paid the full $110. In 13 cases, she created false marriage licenses of couples who never applied. In four cases, she created certificates for couples who applied, charged them the full amount and entered only a portion of the fee paid.

Source: Star Tribune, “Anoka County clerk diverted marriage fees to own pocket,” David Chanen, Aug. 29, 2011

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