The Free Press, Mankato, MN

June 22, 2010

Twin Citian accused in Mankato swindles

By Dan Nienaber
The Free Press

MANKATO — An Oakdale bookkeeper is facing felony charges for allegedly swindling a Mankato business, and investigators are concerned there could be more victims.

Stephanie Rae Guyer, 31, was arrested in October after she was confronted by Brad Bass, owner of Bradford Development in Mankato. She had been hired to do Housing and Urban Development audits and basic bookkeeping for the business, which develops senior housing facilities.

Guyer was released after being questioned by police. She was charged last week and is scheduled to appear in court July 12 for felony charges of theft by swindle and check forgery.

Bass said he became suspicious about his business checking account after finding three checks that were out of sequence. He later learned those checks had been issued to a business called Fresh Start Advertising, which had a similar name to a firm he was doing business with called Fresh Start Ventures.

Bass later learned Fresh Start Advertising was a ghost business that he suspected Guyer had created. Investigators later learned that two of the checks, worth a total of $8,200, had been deposited in a TCF banking account in Maplewood that had been opened by Guyer.

A deposit slip for the two checks and the third missing check from the Bradford Development checking account were found in Guyer’s possession when she was arrested, the criminal complaint said.

Bass said he hired Guyer after she did auditing work for him for a 2006 development project. Guyer owned a business called Lasch Out Books, which claimed to specialize in bookkeeping and fraud investigations.

After learning about Guyer’s TCF account, Bass called the Mankato Police Department. A videotaped sting was set up when Bass had Guyer return to his business do bookkeeping work.

When confronted, she told Bass the money was used to pay her business expenses, the complaint said. When he reminded her his business didn’t have an account with Fresh Start Advertising, she said a former employee had taken the checks.

After Bass told Guyer that employee wouldn’t have had access to his checks, “Guyer indicated that she was willing to pay for the amount that was taken,” the complaint said.

Matt DuRose, Mankato police detective commander, said there could be other victims outside the Mankato area.

“She had access to other people’s books and other people’s checks,” he said Tuesday.