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Jury finds man guilty of swindling $2,500 from woman

A 30-year-old Brainerd man, who appeared before a Crow Wing County jury, was found guilty earlier this month.

Randall Bernard Williams was convicted of felony theft by swindle after he continued to ask the victim for money, promising he would pay her back after cashing cashier's checks.

According to the criminal complaint filed by the Crow Wing County Attorney's Office, Williams first approached the victim on June 20, 2016, at Lakes 12 Theatre, 14145 Baxter Drive, Baxter. Williams, who was not known to the victim at the time, approached her asking for gas money. She gave him $20, and another $30 after he returned and asked for more. Williams asked the victim for her phone number, so he could contact her about paying her back.

A short time later, Williams began calling the victim for help in cashing cashier's checks. Williams told the victim he needed 10 percent of the value of the cashier's check in cash to receive the funds. Williams promised to give the victim her money back when he cashed the check, plus additional money.

Instead of returning the victim's money, Williams continued to ask for more to cash checks. The total the victim withdrew to give to Williams was $2,345. In addition, the victim transferred $259 through Wal-Mart, 7295 Glory Road, Baxter. All the transactions occurred in Crow Wing County.

The victim's son-in-law, who met with police along with the victim and her daughter when reporting the theft, called Williams.

Williams said he was unable to talk because he was at work. A woman called the son-in-law back and said the victim could get her money back, but they would need $200 in cash to cash a check. Another person then called, claiming to be from U.S. Bank and asking for more money.

Ten days after Williams first asked the victim for money at the movie theater, a Baxter police officer located him at a Brainerd residence. Williams confirmed he met the victim after he asked her for money at the theater. Williams claimed the victim continued to give him money for his family and said he thought he'd borrowed about $1,200 from the victim. Williams said the victim would bring the cash to his home.

After a jury trial, Williams was found guilty of the felony charge. Representing the state in the case was Crow Wing Assistant County Attorney Candace Prigge. Public defender Kent Strunk represented Williams.

A judge will sentence Williams and determine appropriate restitution for the victim.