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By LeAnn R. Ralph
MENOMONIE — A 32-year-old Glenwood City woman accused of felony fraud against a financial institution has finished paying restitution and has pleaded “no contest” and been found guilty of an ordinance violation for removal of property.
Amanda K. Hillstead, the owner of the Wilson Nite Club, 260 Wilson Street in Wilson, appeared in Dunn County Circuit Court November 4 before Judge Rod Smeltzer.
Hillstead provided receipts to the court showing that she had paid off the remaining restitution, and Judge Smeltzer amended the felony count of fraud against a financial institution to removal of property.
According to the criminal complaint, an officer with the Menomonie Police Department received a telephone call on April 11, 2017, from a Bremer Bank loss prevention employee, Ann Pivec, who wanted to report a fraud that had taken place March 10, 2017.
A Bremer Bank member, Amanda Hillstead, owed $5,176.30 to Xcel Energy for her business, the Wilson Nite Club, she said.
Since Hillstead did not have enough money in her account to pay the Xcel Energy bill, she had asked Bremer Bank for assistance in making the payment. Bremer Bank received an e-mail message March 20, 2017, that contained documentation from Hillstead and indicating Hillstead was approved for an $8,000 loan from Merchant Cash Group. The money would be deposited on March 16. Because of the confirmation e-mail, Bremer Bank immediately paid Hillstead’s Xcel Energy bill for the Wilson Nite Club, according to the complaint.
Several days later, Bremer bank president Mark Kalscheur became suspicious since $8,000 was never deposited into Hillstead’s account, and Bremer Bank had already paid the $5,176.30 to Xcel Energy.
Kalscheur contacted a Merchant Cash Group underwriter to verify Hillstead’s loan had been approved by Merchant Cash Group, the complaint states.
Kalscheur received an e-mail message from the underwriter on March 20, 2017, indicating Merchant Cash Group did not produce the document supplied by Hillstead which said Hillstead had been approved for a loan.
Hillstead admitted investigators she had forged the loan document and said she had received a valid loan from Merchant Cash Group in the past but had forged the document in question so the electricity would not be shut off at her business, according to the complaint.
Hillstead said she had originally planned to reimburse Bremer Bank, but she needed the money immediately for the Xcel Energy bill, the complaint states.
Judge Smeltzer ordered Hillstead to pay $263.50 in court costs and a $67 fine.
A review hearing for the case is scheduled for February 24, 2020.