By LeAnn R. Ralph
MENOMONIE — A Dunn County judge has found probable cause and has scheduled an arraignment hearing in a case involving a Wheeler couple accused of selling the same five acres of land to two different buyers.
Douglas A. Snyder, 49, and Lisa A. Snyder, 45, are charged with one felony count each of theft and false representation greater than $10,000 and appeared in Dunn County Circuit Court on November 27 for a preliminary hearing.
The Snyders are accused of accepting payments of $10,000 from Shane Cutting and his girlfriend, Laminda Hanson, over a period of years for five acres in the Town of Hay River and then selling an eight-acre parcel that contained the five acres to Andrew DeRaad in January of this year for $16,000.
Brian Hurt, a deputy with the Dunn County Sheriff’s Department, testified at the preliminary hearing that when Cutting initially contacted him about the incident, Hurt told Cutting to contact an attorney, who in turn advised Cutting to talk to the Dunn County Register of Deeds, who informed Cutting that the parcel was registered to someone else.
The attorney Cutting had contacted then told Cutting to contact the sheriff’s department about filing a criminal complaint, he said.
Cutting told Hurt that the Snyders had agreed on a price of $10,000 for five acres, that payments equaling $8,500 had been made and that the initial down payment was a motor vehicle valued at $1,500.
Hanson confirmed the information Cutting had given to investigators with a small booklet containing carbon copies of checks for each of the payments, a receipt for $500 in cash and a receipt for the vehicle, Hurt testified.
Documents obtained from the bank show that the checks appeared to have been cashed by Lisa Snyder, he said.
Cutting told investigators he had gone to Lisa Snyder’s place of employment in Wheeler and had said he had heard the land had been sold to another person and that he wanted his money back, but Snyder was not inclined to refund any money, Hurt testified.
Cutting also told investigators he had asked the Snyders for a deed to the five acres but that he had been told back taxes were owed on the property and that it needed to be surveyed and that Cutting would have to pay for the surveying, he said.
Because of the economy, Cutting could not find much employment in the construction industry and said he was unable to afford paying for a survey of the property, he said.
Doug Snyder told investigators the deal was between his wife and Hanson and that the payments had been small and infrequent, perhaps $100 here and there, Hurt testified.
When investigators went through the checks with Lisa Snyder, Lisa said the signatures were hers and that she had received the checks and had cashed them, he said.
Doug Snyder told Hurt “this is bull…” and denied ever owning a Cadillac, although Wisconsin Department of Transportation Records indicated a Cadillac was registered to Doug Snyder in March of 2004 and was junked several years later, Hurt said.
Cutting had told investigators he had talked to Doug Snyder about buying five acres in 2002 and 2003 and that they had started making payments on the property in 2004, he said.
Stephen Muza, Doug and Lisa Snyder’s attorney, said that theft by fraud is defined as a false representation to the owner of the property and that since the Snyders owned the land, the incident was not a crime but was a civil matter.
“It might be wrong, but it’s not a crime,” he said.
Dunn County Assistant District Attorney Andrew Maki said the property in question was the $10,000 the Snyders obtained by false representation from Cutting and Hanson.
The Honorable Judge William C. Stewart found probable cause that the Snyders had committed a felony and scheduled an arraignment hearing for January 4 at 8:15 a.m.