Herald JournalHerald Journal, April 12, 2004

Various charges filed following two search warrants

By Ryan Gueningsman

What started by passing a forged check at First Community Bank Lester Prairie has led to counterfeiting and narcotics charges for a Norwood Young America man.

Chad Lee Gutknecht, 23, is facing an initial charge of offering a forged check, according to a criminal complaint filed in McLeod County District Court.

Gutknecht, using the alias Ben Stevens, attempted to cash a check for $388.50 June 30. The check had been stolen in a school burglary over Memorial Day weekend from Mayer Lutheran High School, and had been made payable to Mayer Lutheran for a much lesser amount, said Lester Prairie Police Chief Bob Carlson.

“He washed the name and amount off of the check and re-wrote it,” Carlson said.

The day after Gutknecht passed the bad check, his apartment in Norwood Young America was searched under two separate search warrants – one for narcotics, and one for counterfeiting, according to search warrants filed in Carver County District Court.

Carver County deputies obtained the search warrants after learning that Gutknecht was printing counterfeit United States currency on a computer in his apartment, according to the warrant. Exact duplicates of $100 bills, all with the same serial number, were reported.

Authorities are investigating cases of counterfeit bills showing up in Mayer, Norwood Young America, and Glencoe.

While executing the search warrant July 1 at Gutknecht’s apartment, authorities found counterfeit United States currency, numerous CDs and floppy disks, checks, computer, printer, and stamp kit.

Upon executing a second search warrant at the same time, looking for controlled substances, deputies recovered about 10 Baggies with residue in them, in addition to one Baggy with a crystal substance that field tested positive for methamphetamine, and a drug pipe, according to the warrant receipt.

Gutknecht had apparently been living at an apartment with his girlfriend, Johanna Marie Lenzen, 27, and her four children.

As a result of the children being present in the apartment, both Gutknecht and Lenzen were charged with a gross misdemeanor violation of endangering a child – situation that could cause harm or death. This charge carries a maximum penalty of one year imprisonment, and/or a $1,000 fine.

Gutknecht and Lenzen were both also charged with fifth degree possession for the suspected methamphetamine that was found, which carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment, and/or a $10,000 fine.

They were each also charged with possession of small amounts of marijuana, which the maximum penalty is $300 and participation in a drug education program, as well as possession of drug paraphernalia, which also carries a $300 fine.

For his suspected counterfeiting, Gutknecht was charged with aggravated forgery – utter or possess writing/objects, which is a felony and carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment, and/or a $20,000 fine.

Both Gutknecht and Lenzen were set to appear in Carver County District Court July 9 to face these charges, according to the Carver County Attorney’s Office.

A court date has not been set for Gutknecht’s offense in McLeod County, according to the McLeod County Attorney’s Office.

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