$25K extortion plot, 1 accomplice boyfriend, and 1 epic fail

An apparent disagreement between a boss and an employee in Anoka County devolved into a bizarre extortion attempt that completely failed while police were watching.

Anoka County Attorney Paul Young said not only are the charges filed by Anoka County prosecutors Thursday serious, but also rare.

The incident involves Heather Knoss, who until recently, was an employee at the A-1 Recycling Center and Appliance Sales. According to the company's website, it has two locations, one in Minneapolis, one in Anoka, plus a warehouse in St. Paul.

Prosecutors said last month, Knoss and her boyfriend, Ruben Valdes Jr., tried to take advantage of some of the small business owner's success, demanding thousands of dollars, or else, they'll divulge store information, which is believed to be damaging. According to the criminal complaint, Valdes and Knoss were seen taking pictures of appliances and leaving a note that said, "When you guys are ready to come up with an offer, call this number."

Originally asking for $50,000 through text messages, the owner eventually agreed to pay $25,000. The couple didn't know that as the owner agreed to drop the envelope of cash in an Anoka garbage can, police were also watching. Knoss and Valdes were subsequently arrested as soon as they picked up the money.

"We don't see these types of extortion attempts very often, but you can see how dangerous they can be to business owners if a former employee or disgruntled customer just wanted to make some money. It probably took a little bit of courage for this business owner to stand up and say, ‘I'm not going to be involved in your threats for gains,'" Young said.

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