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Slayton man charged with forgery, stolen checks

WORTHINGTON -- Brian Ashley Veen Martens, 31, of Slayton, is facing up to 25 years in prison after allegedly stealing checks from a former roommate earlier this year.

Martens, who is scheduled to make an appearance in Nobles County District Court this morning, is charged with possession of stolen or counterfeit checks, check forgery -- over $250, offering a forged check -- over $250, theft by check -- over $1,000, and offering a forged check with a prior offense.

The complaint states authorities were contacted in May by a Worthington man, who said several checks had been stolen from a box of his checks and presented to various businesses. The man believed Martens had stolen the checks when he lived with him in Worthington from January to May.

The missing checks were taken from the middle and back of the check bundles. His bank had contacted him because of activity on his checking account that was deemed suspicious.

The victim provided authorities with copies of 18 checks, along with signed affidavits of forgery for each check.

One check, written at a gas station, was returned to the station by the bank because of an irregular signature. Surveillance video showed the person making the transaction was wearing a red shirt with white stripes.

An employee at a different gas station the same day identified the suspect as Martens. He was wearing the same shirt on the security tape from the second station, where he paid for some items with a check.

The sister of the victim said Martens had contacted her father and apologized for taking the checks. The victim's father confirmed that Martens had called him and said he wanted to "make things right."

The total of all checks passed was more than $1,180, and they were written to restaurants, gas stations, a grocery store, a department store and more.

During a phone call between a detective and Martens, he admitted to writing some checks on the victim's account for food and to a store. Martens said the victim had already signed the checks that he had found and taken from a desk in the house. He denied signing any of the checks.

Martens has a previous conviction in Nobles County for motor vehicle theft in November 2007 and for theft by deception in Lawrence County, S.D., in August 2007.