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Willmar man pleads to theft by swindle, check forgery charges


WILLMAR -- Marlon James Sands, 26, of Willmar, pleaded guilty Monday to felony charges of theft by swindle and check forgery for using fraudulent vehicle transfers to swindle money and for writing checks on closed accounts.

As part of a plea agreement in Kandiyohi County District Court, seven additional felony charges of theft, receiving stolen property and check forgery will be dismissed and he will pay restitution. He will be sentenced June 4.

The theft, receiving stolen property and theft by swindle charges were filed after Oct. 28 when a Twin Cities resident reported to the Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office that someone had stolen two vehicles parked at his cabin residence in Spicer.

The vehicles, a 1995 Cadillac and a 1977 Lincoln, had been there a week before, the man told deputies. A neighbor reported that four men, with two pickups and car dolly-style trailers, had pulled the vehicles away from the residence and loaded them onto the trailers.

A few days later, a man reported to the Sheriff's Office that he suspected that he had bought a stolen vehicle from a man who went by the nickname of "Smoke." The man had purchased the car for $150 and then sold it for scrap metal to Litchfield Recycling.

Another man reported he had purchased three vehicles, including the Cadillac and the Lincoln, from "Smoke." He had also sold the cars to Litchfield Recycling.

Using the state's stolen vehicle database, the deputy determined that all four had been reported stolen, with the other two missing from the Willmar area. Officials at Litchfield Recycling, who had all four vehicles, confirmed they did a large amount of business with the two men who had sold the vehicles and paid a total of $1,341.39.

One of the men identified "Smoke" as Sands, and a woman who had been involved in the transactions in a photo lineup. Residents of a Willmar apartment building where some of the transactions had taken place identified Sands and identified the woman as his girlfriend.

The check forgery charges were filed after a New London business reported to the Sheriff's Office on Jan. 13 that Sands was at their business and that he had an active warrant for his arrest. He was searched before the deputy took him into custody and two checks, written to and signed by Sands, were found in his pockets. The investigation revealed that checks had been written on closed accounts belonging to Sands.

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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