A Monticello woman is accused of fake money to purchase lottery tickets at a convenience store in Blaine.
Tana Spitzengel, 24, of Monticello, could face up to 20 years in prison and be required to pay fines in excess of $150,000 if convicted of the charges of counterfeiting currency and state lottery fraud filed against the woman in Anoka County District Court. Spitzengel is also charged with giving false information to police, according to court records.
Lottery investigators became interested in Spitzengel after a employee of a Blaine convenience store reported on January 28 that the Monticello woman paid for two lottery tickets and $10 in gas with counterfeit currency, according to a criminal complaint filed in Anoka County District Court.
The employee reported that Spitzengel had thrown the money on the counter and ran out of the store. She left the scene in a red pick-up truck driven by a white male, the complaint states.
Investigators confirmed that Spitzengel paid for the lottery tickets and gasoline with five counterfeit $20 bills and a counterfeit $10. Three of the counterfeit $20 bills had the same serial number, the complaint states.
Not long after Spitzengel left the convenience store, a Minnesota Lottery investigator notified police officers that one of the lottery tickets purchased at the store was a winning ticket and had recently been redeemed at a second convenience store in Blaine. Police officers in the area observed the pick-up truck and initiated a traffic stop. Driving the vehicle was Jacob Dean Theis, 28 of St. Francis, who was also was later charged with counterfeiting currency and state lottery fraud. Spitzengel was a passenger in the pick-up truck. Spitzengel allegedly lied to officers about her identity, claiming to be someone else, the complaint states. After being positively identified, police learned that Spitzengel was also wanted on an active warrant out of Wright County for traffic collision violations.
A search of the pick-up uncovered in the center console four counterfeit $20 bills, seven counterfeit $10 bills and six counterfeit $1 bills. A counterfeit bill was also found in Theis’ wallet.
Officers found inside the pick-up truck two laptop computers, two cellphones, two packages of ivory-colored paper, a paper slicer, and two partially-printed counterfeit bills, the complaint states.
Spitzengel and Theis are also suspects in making other purchases with counterfeit bills. One purchase was at a Taco Bell in Blaine and at a Monticello gas station where six counterfeit $20 bills were used to purchase lottery tickets, the complaint states.
Spitzengel made her initial appearance in Anoka County District Court on January 30. Her next court appearance is set for February 24 for an omnibus hearing.
Reach Jeff Hage at firstname.lastname@example.org