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By Stephen J. Lee, Forum News Service, Published April 18 2013

Man says ex stole $100K in cash from truck's glove box

GRAND FORKS – A Warroad, Minn., woman is in jail in Thief River Falls, Minn., accused of stealing at least $22,000 in cash from her former boyfriend, who prosecutors said is a vulnerable adult.

Venche Keeler, 36, has admitted taking that much, though it’s likely she took all $100,000 the man had stashed in the glove box of his pickup, Kristin Hanson, assistant Pennington County attorney, said Thursday.

On Tuesday, Keeler appeared in state district court in Thief River Falls, charged with felony theft, which has a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, Hanson said. More charges could be filed, the prosecutor said.

The victim, a 24-year-old who lives in Grand Forks, said in an interview Thursday that he had withdrawn the $100,000 from his Warroad bank savings account with plans to deposit it in a Grand Forks bank.

His name is not being used 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 said he had 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 money was part of a large financial settlement from that accident, he said.

The injury still affects his memory, he said, and he wasn’t able 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 in early October, the man withdrew $100,761. The officials said he regularly made large withdrawals 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.

His father confirmed seeing the cash in October: “The money in the glove box, it was completely full, packed tight with the money.”

But by April 1, the glove box was empty. The man told police there had been $100,000 in cash in 10 rolls of $50 and $100 bills.

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.”

Prosecutors are seeking restitution of $22,000 from Keeler in the case.