Today the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office arraigned Kelsea Christine Bernhardt, 37. Bernhardt faces three cases and 14 counts including Identity theft, theft and forgery. She is a High Priority Offender (HPO). Bernhardt is accused of stealing and then forging stolen checks into her own name. Bail is set at $260,000.00.
Deputy Prosecutor Mark Sanchez argued for high bail based, in part, on the defendant being a “prolific stolen check writer.” She has 13 prior felony convictions.
In the latest case, On December 17, 2016, the victim, J. Dubois, was notified by Columbia Bank that someone had cashed one of two stolen checks. He contacted Tacoma Police to report the theft of two of his checks. Dubois stated that the checks were made out to two different companies to pay bills. He placed two checks in his outgoing mail on December 16, 2016.
The detective contacted Columbia Bank and obtained video surveillance from the check transactions and also obtained copies of the two checks that had been stolen. Both checks had been forged, and one listed the payee as Antonio Overby, a co-defendant, and the other listed the payee as Kelsea Bernhardt.
The video surveillance showed the two defendants entering the Spanaway branch of Columbia Bank together on December 17th. Bernhardt went to one teller and Overby went to a different teller.
Overby successfully cashed check #4802 and received $750.00 cash. He left the bank alone while Bernhardt was still at the counter trying to cash check #4803 written in the amount of $1000.00. A short time later Bernhardt left the branch without receiving any money after the teller called the victim about the check.
Bernhardt left the check behind. In all there are more than half a dozen alleged victims.
“Our High Priority Offender Program uses data, technology and intel to identify and target the small percentage of offenders who are causing a large percentage of crimes,” said Prosecutor Lindquist. “The goal is to reduce crime and make our community safer.”
Charges are only allegations and a person is presumed innocent unless he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.