AP NEWS

Winona woman charged with check forgery

May 23, 2019

AUSTIN, Minn. — Danielle Georgia Steffes, 39, of Winona was charged with felony check forgery on Wednesday in Mower County District Court.

According to the court complaint, an Austin police officer was called on Monday regarding a check forgery incident at a local bar. An employee at the bar said that a male and female came into the bar the previous day to cash checks from “McFarland Truck Lines” in Austin. She checked the woman’s identification and cashed her checks.

She also cashed checks for the man (purportedly “Phillip Steffes”) despite him not having any identification. The employee said the woman had a State of Minnesota identification card and a yellow paper document purporting that she was “Natalie Wilkins” and that she had written the identification card number on the checks. The checks later came back as fake.

The total cashed for the “Natalie Wilkins” checks came out to $729.24, while the total for the “Phillip Steffes” checks were in the sum of $775.24.

The officer had dispatch run the identification card number and was advised that it was not on file. He noticed that all of the checks had the same check number and that the routing number was not associated with any bank.

Surveillance footage from the bar showed both suspects and the vehicle they were driving.

Police returned to the bar later that day after another employee reported that a woman, Steffes, was attempting to pass a bad check in the total of $924.62. They spoke to Steffes, who said she was trying to pass a check, but not a bad one. She then began to cry and admitted the name on the check, “Natalie Wilkins,” was not her real name. She told police she was “going through a divorce” and needed the money for an attorney. She admitted to cashing bad checks the previous day, saying she learned how to forge checks on TV.

At the Mower County Jail, Steffes’ purse was found to contain:

• Nine fraudulent personal checks bearing the name “Natalie Wilkins”;

• Four fraudulent checks bearing the name “Brian McCalister”

• One fraudulent check bearing the name “Mark Wilkins”;

• One fraudulent check from Home Federal Bank;

• A yellow DMV temporary license bearing the name “Natalie Wilkins”;

• Two check stubs bearing the name “Natalie Wilkins”; and

• An envelope bearing the name “Natalie Wilkins.”

Steffes will appear in court again on June 3.

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