Woman in largest Washington County theft case sentenced

A woman formerly from Forest Lake, Minnesota has recently been sentenced in the largest theft case in Washington County history. The woman has been sentenced to more than five years in prison for defrauding clients of $1.2 million from multiple property transactions.

The 51-year-old woman ran a real estate title closing company called Strand Closing Services Inc. in Forest Lake, Minnesota. Clients provided the woman’s company with funds to pay off home mortgages, taxes and title companies related to real estate closings. The woman was accused of using funds from transactions she worked on for her own use.

The woman conducted about 40 real estate transactions before moving to Fort Myers, Florida. The City of Forest Lake was one of the woman’s victims and lost $204,819 in property transactions. The woman’s biggest victim was RiverBank. The bank lost almost $600,000 in the sale of an apartment building. Homeowners who worked with the woman lost between $3,092 to $81,357.

The 51-year-old woman was initially charged with around 36 felony counts. The woman admitted to two counts of theft by swindle and three counts of theft by false representation. The woman’s husband was initially charged with related crimes but those charges were later dropped.

On Friday the woman was sentenced to 68 months in prison. An attorney for Washington County said the series of fraudulent transactions threatens the dream of many Americans to own a home. Washington County has bolstered its efforts to detect mortgage fraud and believes all county prosecutors’ offices should have knowledge on the issue.

In addition to prison time, the woman was also ordered to pay restitution with wages she earns in prison.

Source: Star Tribune, “Five-plus years for $1.2 million fraud,” Jim Anderson, Aug.8, 2011

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
Minnesota Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: State of Minnesota Minnesota State Court Minnesota Federal Court 8th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals State of Maryland

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

One of the questions people facing a criminal charge ask is: How long does a criminal case take? The timeline of your criminal case in Minnesota will depend on the nature and severity of the alleged crime, the speed of the criminal justice system, the duration of the trial, and whether an appeal will be necessary. Delays at any stage of the criminal justice process may impact how long your criminal case will last. Generally, however, misdemeanor cases may resolve within weeks or months, while felony cases may linger in courts for up to a year.
People accused, arrested, or charged with a crime often ask, “How much does a criminal defense lawyer cost in Minneapolis, MN?” It is difficult to accurately determine how much a criminal defense lawyer will cost. The reason is that numerous factors impact the cost of legal representation in criminal matters. These factors include the type and severity of criminal charges, the lawyer’s experience and reputation, required time and effort, and geographical location.
Social media can have legal implications, particularly when it comes to criminal cases. Since its advent, social media has become a powerful tool for communication and self-expression. As of 2023, an estimated 4.9 billion people worldwide use social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to share thoughts, experiences, and moments from their lives. However, in this digital age, social media activity can be used as evidence in criminal cases in Minneapolis and elsewhere.