Nancy Saatzer thought her personal care attendant Jennifer Storm looked a little rough. But Saatzer, a quadriplegic, was happy to have Storm help her as she is extremely dependent on personal care attendants.
"She was actually a pleasant woman, very kind," Saatzer said. She had no idea about Storm's criminal background, and learned about it the hard way.
According to police, Jennifer Storm and her boyfriend Mark Ladouceur went on a spending spree with Saatzer's credit card. At Kim's Jewelry in Minneapolis, they were caught on camera buying a pair of gold chains for $3,040, at the Apple store in Uptown they bought an I-Phone 6 for $957. More charges at the Shakopee Walmart totaled to $747.
Minneapolis police detective David Mattson said Ladouceur is a convicted forger and swindler and has had more than 36 victims. Saatzer put the card in her brother's name in case she ever got sick. Ladouceur learned of the brother's date of birth, address, and driver's license number, from a private online database and then began creating multiple Minnesota drivers' licenses with multiple aliases, all with his own picture.
Ladoucer forged fake checks and would cash them at casinos, one for $4,000. His luck ran out at Grand Casino Hinckley, when the name on the driver's license didn't match the magnetic strip in back.
As impressive as Ladouceur's scam was, the biggest surprise was Jennifer Storm. She had been arrested for burglary, forgery, credit card and check fraud. She was even on probation for burglary when she was arrested for possession of methamphetamine.
The Fox 9 Investigators questioned how Storm could have that kind of record and still pass a criminal background check to be a personal care attendant -- she had no record with the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, and her complete history didn't show up with online court records.
The Fox 9 Investigators discovered that charges have been dismissed and wiped clean after she successfully completed probation. It's happened with different judges, in three different counties.
Storm isn't the only PCA who has a past that's hard to track. Emmanuel Clark is a nursing assistant charged with stealing a credit card from a 92-year-old woman from a Twin Cities nursing home. He ran up a $1,742 bill at a liquor store but the case was plea bargained and continued for dismissal. No conviction appeared on his record.
The Minnesota Department of Human Services does more than 310,000 background studies a year on everyone from childcare and nursing home workers, to chemical and mental health professionals.
"If it gets continued for dismissal and the person meets all the terms, if they're on probation conditions, and those charges are dismissed we're not likely to learn about it," Jerry Kerber, Inspector General with the Department of Human Services, said.
For 24 years the department has relied on BCA records which have major gaps, and only maintain convictions. DHS is now rolling out a new and more accurate background check. That will also look at court records in real time. Kerber hopes the new system makes DHS checks as good as it gets.
Minneapolis police have forwarded the case against Storm and Ladouceur to the Hennepin County Attorney's office. They could be charged with credit card fraud as early as next week. But it's still an ongoing investigation and police don't know if there are other in-home patients who were victimized.
Through her attorney, Storm declined to comment for this story. She told police she has no idea how that credit card ended up in her boyfriend's hands.