CL police accuse couple of bilking disabled man

After six weeks of investigation, Clear Lake Police filed charges against 56-year-old Steven Dirk Epsteen Friday for First Degree Theft, a Class C Felony, and Ongoing Criminal Conduct, a Class B Felony.  Police also filed charges against Epsteen’s accomplice, 52-year-old Victoria Ellen Baumann

 for Aiding and Abetting Second Degree Theft a Class D Felony and Aiding and Abetting Ongoing Criminal Conduct a Class B Felony. 

Both Epsteen and Baumann reside in Clear Lake with a 68-year-old disabled man. Epsteen acts as the man’s caregiver.

On Dec. 9, 2013 the disabled man Epsteen cares for, reported that someone had been forging his signature and cashing checks belonging to him. A subsequent investigation by Clear Lake Police Detective Ryan Eskildsen revealed that between June 17, 2013 and Dec. 9, 2013, Epsteen and Baumann had cashed over $14,000 in forged checks on his checking account for merchandise at various businesses. The majority of the checks, amounting to over $12,000, were used at the Wal-Mart store in Mason City to purchase merchandise. Much of the merchandise purchased was then returned for cash refunds.

Warrants were issued on Thursday, Jan. 23, for Epsteen and Baumann.  Epsteen was arrested by Clear Lake Police officers the same evening and is being held at the Cerro Gordo County Jail on a $25,000 cash bond. 

Baumann has not yet been apprehended.

The Clear Lake Police Department was assisted in its investigation by the Loss Prevention Department at the Mason City Wal-Mart store.

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