Grand Forks man says ex-girlfriend stole $100,000A Warroad, Minn., woman is in jail in Thief River Falls, accused of stealing at least $22,000 in cash from a Grand Forks man who prosecutors said is a vulnerable adult.
By: Stephen J. Lee, Grand Forks Herald
A Warroad, Minn., woman is in jail in Thief River Falls, accused of stealing $22,000 in cash from a Grand Forks man who prosecutors said is a vulnerable adult.
Venche Keeler, 36, has admitted taking that much, though it’s likely she took all $100,000 in cash the man had stashed in the glove box of his pickup truck, said Kristin Hanson, assistant Pennington County attorney on Thursday.
On Tuesday, Keeler appeared in state district court in Thief River Falls, charged with felony theft of more than $5,000, which has a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, Hanson said. More charges could be filed, the prosecutor said.
The Grand Forks man, who is 24, told the Herald Thursday he had withdrawn the $100,000 from his Warroad bank savings account late last year with plans to deposit it in a Grand Forks bank.
The Herald is not publishing his name because of his vulnerable status.
Keeler remains in jail under a $10,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in court again Monday when she can enter a formal plea.
The man told the Herald he suffered a traumatic brain injury when he was 3 and a semi truck struck his family’s vehicle near his childhood home in Lake of the Woods County, Minn. The stolen money was part a large financial settlement from that accident, he said.
The injury still affects his memory, he said, and he was unable to tell police some details about how or when the money disappeared from his 2008 Toyota Tundra the past six months.
According to the police investigators’ probable cause statement, Warroad bank officials said that the man withdrew $100,761 in early October. The officials said he regularly made large withdrawals in cash despite their advice against it.
The man and his family members told police that he has received a series of large payments from the settlement, a total of about $800,000, since he was 18.
According to state court records, the man's attorney sued a Wisconsin trucking firm in 1993 on his behalf related to the accident.
The man's father told investigators that he saw the $100,000 in cash in October in his son's pickup: “The money in the glove box, it was completely full, packed tight with the money.”
The man told police there had been $100,000 in cash in 10 rolls of $50 and $100 bills.
But by April 1, the glove box was empty, the man told investigators.
He figured Keeler had been in his pickup a half-dozen times since October, and he suspected she had taken all the money “one to two rolls at a time.”
The man and Keeler had dated, he said, but “were just friends” the past year or two. They occasionally met in Thief River Falls to spend the day together, he said.