EAST GRAND FORKS, Minn. — An East Grand Forks woman is facing 10 felonies on allegations she forged a doctor’s signature to receive more than $17,000 of public assistance.
Cadence Marie Zastoupil-Carnes is facing six counts of aggravated forgery, which each hold a maximum sentence of 10 years behind bars, and four charges of theft by false representation, which are each punishable by up to 5 years in prison.
A criminal complaint said a Polk County Social Services' eligibility worker noticed signatures on a medical opinion form from the same doctor appeared to be different. The forms stated Zastoupil-Carnes and her husband, Brent Allen Carnes, were unable to work and therefore eligible for cash benefits and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.
An investigator said he spoke with the Altru Hospital doctor listed on the forms and determined his signature was forged on 16 medical opinions from 2013 until 2018. The doctor said he had not met with Carnes since 2014 and would have required the patient to show up physically for an appointment before signing a medical opinion form, according to the complaint.
Police searched Zastoupil-Carnes’ home and found copies of the doctor’s stamp on blank Altru letterheads, incomplete medical opinion forms that appeared to be stamped and letters that appeared to have been written by the doctor, the affidavit said. Zastoupil-Carnes reportedly admitted to officers she copied and forged a few of the forms but could not remember all of the documents. According to the complaint, “she knew that the dollar amount was a lot but was willing to pay everything back.”
The couple received $11,039 in SNAP benefits and $6,801 in cash assistance, the complaint said. In total, they allegedly received $17,840 in assistance.
Zastoupil-Carnes’ husband told officers he knew the couple received food stamps, but was unaware of any other assistance and had not filled out any paperwork to receive benefits, the complaint said.
Charges were filed Thursday, July 18, against Zastoupil-Carnes. She is being held on a $2,000 bond with conditions for release and is scheduled to appear in court Aug. 6.