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Death of witness instrumental in dismissal of fraud charges

WILLMAR -- Three felony fraud charges against Kristi Friese, 43, of Willmar, have been dismissed because a necessary witness in the case has died.

The dismissal was filed Monday in Kandiyohi County District Court. Friese had been charged with allegedly taking $2,210 from an older woman whom she befriended by helping with household chores.

According to court files, Willmar police investigators talked with the woman just days before she died and discovered the woman had also loaned Friese a total of $500, which was not repaid.

The criminal complaint against Friese was amended to include the theft on the day that the woman died.

According to the original complaint, a woman who was guardian for the older woman contacted police May 24 and reported a large amount of money was missing from the woman's bank account. The older woman was a vulnerable adult.

"Vulnerable adult" is the legal term used in Minnesota to describe a person who has a physical or mental condition that impairs the person's ability to care for him or herself.

At the time of the guardian's report, records showed a total of $1,710 in withdrawals from automatic teller machines at several locations in Willmar. The transactions occurred between May 10 and 19. The guardian suspected Friese because she had come to the woman's home to clean.

The older woman had told an investigator that Friese had appeared at her door and asked if she had any household chores that Friese could do.

The woman said she didn't make the withdrawals and had been very adamant that she get money herself from an ATM machine.

Friese was interviewed and said that she had gone to an ATM machine several times and taken money, but claimed she had the woman's permission to do so.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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