DeGuara pleads not guilty to check-forgery chargesWORTHINGTON — Gretchen Marie DeGuara, also known as Gretchen Marie Scott, made a court appearance Wednesday morning to plead not guilty to four felony counts in Nobles County District Court.
By: Justine Wettschreck, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Gretchen Marie DeGuara, also known as Gretchen Marie Scott, made a court appearance Wednesday morning to plead not guilty to four felony counts in Nobles County District Court.
DeGuara is currently facing felony charges in three counties in southwest Minnesota — Nobles, Murray and Lyon. She also has a misdemeanor charge pending in Murray County.
In Nobles County, she is charged with check forgery of more than $250, offering a forged check, possession of stolen or counterfeit checks and theft by check over $500 with a prior conviction.
After requesting a contested omnibus hearing two weeks ago, DeGuara waived her right to an omnibus Wednesday and pleaded not guilty to each charge. Defense attorney Terry Vajgrt asked the judge to set the case for a jury trial, which Nobles County Assistant Attorney Kimberly Pehrson believes will take two days.
The complaint against DeGuara states a Worthington Police Officer was contacted Nov. 13, 2008, regarding a check passed on a closed account at Ace Hardware. Two females had allegedly written a check for $75 on an account in another person’s name. The employee found it strange, so she contacted the bank and found the account was closed.
The officer located the two females, identified as a 17-year-old juvenile and DeGuara, at another Worthington store. DeGuara allegedly admitted she had passed the check at the hardware store and gave the officer the items she had purchased.
She said her roommate, whose name was on the check, had asked her to purchase the items and gave her the check. She admitted she had also written a check at Runnings two weeks prior when the roommate was with her. She claimed she did not know the account was closed.
The officer then went to Runnings and arranged to have copies of the checks sent to him. Nine checks had been passed on the closed account. The complaint states three of the checks appear to have been signed by the roommate, with the remaining six appearing to have the same handwriting as the check DeGuara admitted to writing at Ace. The checks, along with the one from Ace, total $570.
A cashier at Runnings told authorities she remembered several of the transactions because the woman who presented the checks came into the store several times in a short period. The cashier said the checks were already signed, with the amount filled in. The description of the woman who passed the checks matched that of DeGuara.
The cashier said the female was with a male, about 5 feet six inches tall, with light hair, who the woman said was her brother.
One of the checks, signed by the account holder but presented by DeGuara, was for $161.
DeGuara has a prior conviction for aggravated forgery, for which she was sentenced in February 2008.
In Lyon County, DeGuara is facing one count of forgery, and in Murray County, she faces a charge of fifth-degree controlled substance possession and possession of drug paraphernalia. In a separate case in Murray County, both DeGuara and her husband, Joshua DeGuara, face theft charges for allegedly stealing a propane bottle from a neighbor and hooking it up to their house.
Joshua DeGuara is also facing two felony charges of receiving stolen property in Murray County, for which he is scheduled to go to trial in April. He allegedly had possession of hundreds of dollars of equipment that had been stolen from the Avoca Fire and Rescue Department. A separate case of domestic assault is also pending against Joshua DeGuara.
Gretchen DeGuara is currently being held in the Nobles County Jail on a sentence from a previous case.
Warrants were issued earlier this week against Joshua DeGuara, who is delinquent in his payments to the Murray County Court for convictions of theft, driving without a valid license and driving an uninsured vehicle. He also owes the Nobles County Court more than $600 for a dishonored check conviction.
The DeGuaras were evicted from their rental house in Avoca in January for not paying rent, unsanitary conditions and not repairing damage caused by a fire.