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Osakis couple face felony charges

Curtis Waldvogel1 / 3
Denise Waldvogel2 / 3
Tammy Popoe3 / 3

An investigation into credit card fraud and swindle in Osakis led to felony drug charges.

Denise Carol Waldvogel, 47, of Osakis was charged Dec. 31, 2016 with felony theft by swindle. Her husband, Curtis Dale Waldvogel, 45, was charged with felony credit card fraud on March 1 and two drug-related counts on Feb. 1 — third-degree possession of meth in excess of 10 grams, about one-third of an ounce, and fifth-degree possession of marijuana.

A 42-year-old Frazee woman, Tammy Lynn Popoe, who was living at the Waldvogels' residence at 509 First Ave. East, was charged on Dec. 16, 2016 with possessing more than 50 grams, or nearly 1.8 ounces, of meth, a first-degree felony.

The investigation started last November after the president of the Osakis Creamery Association reported to police that the general manager, Denise Waldvogel, was fired when a financial audit showed funds were missing from the creamery. She was responsible for keeping books, making deposits and had authority to make purchases.

The criminal complaint lists several instances of theft:

• She borrowed $12,658.21 from her 401K fund, wrote a check from the creamery's accounts to the First National Bank of Osakis for the same amount and then used a cashier's check to repay her 401K loan, according to the criminal complaint. She allegedly entered the $12,658.21 withdrawal as a deposit in the creamery's books.

• Between January 2016 and October 2016, Waldvogel wrote checks totaling $5,761.52 toward credit cards with which the creamery did not have accounts, including Menards, Capital One, Merrick Bank and Discover Card, according to the complaint.

• She wrote cash deposits in the books totaling $4,041.42 but didn't deposit the funds with the bank, according to the complaint.

• She wrote a $10,400.43 check from the creamery to the Douglas County auditor-treasurer to pay a portion of the property taxes she and her husband owed, according to the complaint.

• She allegedly gave herself a $2,000 payroll advance from the creamery that wasn't authorized or repaid.

• Last April, she issued a $7,500 check to herself from the creamery and deposited it in her personal account, according to the complaint.

The total theft amount reported by the creamery was $42,361.58.

During the swindle investigation, Osakis police learned that Curtis Waldvogel allegedly used one of the creamery's Menards credit cards over a two-year period, beginning in August of 2014, to purchase items without permission.

Police obtained multiple invoices containing Waldvogel's signature and found surveillance video from one of the transactions that shows him purchasing items that corresponded with the invoice for that date, according to the complaint.

In all, Waldvogel is accused of making 33 unauthorized transactions at Menards totaling $6,334.96.

On Dec. 15, 2016, the Osakis Police Department issued a search warrant at the Waldvogels' house to seize any illegally obtained merchandise.

As a precautionary measure, the Osakis Public Schools, which is located across the street from the house, was notified and went into a soft lockdown for about 10 minutes in case someone fled the scene.

An officer met Popoe in an upstairs hallway and later found a meth pipe containing burned residue on a nightstand in an upstairs bedroom. After a dispatcher informed officers that an active warrant had been issued for Popoe, she was taken into custody.

After resuming the search, Osakis Police Chief Chad Gulbranson saw Curtis Waldvogel loading a gun case and a small cooler into the back of a pickup truck. When asked to open them up, Waldvogel was reluctant to open the cooler and repeatedly said there was nothing in it, according to the complaint.

He eventually opened the cooler and Gulbranson found four vacuum-packed bags believed to contain about 466 grams, or about a pound, of marijuana.

Based on the discovery of drugs, police obtained a second search warrant to look for controlled substances. According to the complaint, police found:

• A plastic blister package containing 13 grams of meth in Waldvogel's bedroom closet.

• A handbag in an upstairs bedroom closet containing about 96 grams of meth concealed in a sock, along with 45 grams of marijuana, a scale, drug paraphernalia and an insurance card issued to Popoe.

• Nearly 70 grams of meth in Popoe's Jeep Liberty, which was parked in a garage attached to the residence. A police dog named Ozzy sniffed out the narcotics, according to the complaint.

In a recorded statement to police, Curtis Waldvogel said that Popoe moved into the residence recently and all the meth belonged to her except for the meth found in his bedroom closet.

In addition to the drugs, police also seized multiple items that matched the invoices from the credit card purchases Curtis Waldvogel made at Menards.

Curtis Waldvogel is scheduled to appear in Douglas County District Court on March 13. An omnibus hearing for Denise Waldvogel is scheduled for March 31. Both Waldvogels were released from jail after posting bail.

An omnibus hearing for Popoe is scheduled for March 23. She remains in custody at the Douglas County Jail.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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