By Kate Klimesh,
The Driftless Journal continues to receive information related to Mindy Jones – originally from Sumner, and former resident of Harmony and Mabel, Minn., as well as Waukon and Cresco within the past year – who has since moved to the Waterloo area following her second round of felony charges in Fillmore County related to bad checks and theft. Jones entered a guilty plea in August of this year to the first felony Theft by Swindle charges related to a fraudulent raffle in August and September 2021. A Filing of Restitution has been filed by the State of Minnesota on Oct. 13. Jones’ sentencing for this felony was held Oct. 24 at 1 p.m. in the Fillmore County District Court in Preston, Minn.
Regarding the second round of felony charges from actions reported in December 2021, Jones has been charged with 14 felony counts of Theft-by-Swindle, Theft-by-Check, Theft-take/use/transfer movable property – No Consent, and Issue Dishonored Check, Jones was released Aug. 22 without bail under conditions she remain law-abiding and ensure her contact information to be current and make all scheduled court appearances.
Fillmore County Attorney Brent Corson filed his notice of evidence Aug. 11, which noted the case against Jones may include information and evidence of Jones’ Bremer County Theft in the Fifth Degree from 2006 (guilty plea on file); Bremer County felony Forgery for unauthorized use of a credit card from 2009 (guilty plea on file); Bremer County felony Forgery from 2016 (guilty plea on file) for which she served one year in jail; Theft/swindling as alleged by Jones daughter Mariah Spier in September 2021; Theft and Forgery alleged by William Ondrashek from June of this year; and the Fillmore County Theft by Swindle Felony from August 2022 (guilty plea on file).
Sentencing for the Fillmore County conviction of Theft by Swindle of property or services of $1,001 to $5,000 was held Monday, Oct. 24. The other charges in this case were dismissed by the Fillmore County Attorney upon her guilty plea to this charge. Jones’ sentence of 21 months in the Shakopee, Minn., Correctional Facility was stayed for five years, but Jones will be required to serve 120 days in the Fillmore County Jail, with credit for two days. Jones’ recent request to serve time in the Waterloo was granted, and Judge Opat will discuss further details regarding this during her Omnibus hearing for the second round of felony charges Monday, Oct. 31 at 1:30 p.m.
Jones will be placed on supervised probation for a term of five years, monitored by Dodge Fillmore Olmsted Community Corrections. During this time, Jones will contact her probation officer as directed, complete an educational assessment/program, and contact her probation officer within 72 hours if she has contact with law enforcement, is charged with any new crime, changes her address, employment or phone number.
Per the terms of her probation, Jones must remain law-abiding, cooperate with the search of her person, property, workplace, etc. as directed by her probation officer, complete chemical dependency evaluation/treatment within 45 days, perform a mental health screening, maintain employment and residence, and pay restitution before fines, fees and surcharges.
Jones is not allowed to possess firearms, ammunition or explosives, alcohol/controlled substances – or have contact with persons associated with illegal drugs or frequent bars or liquor stores, can have no contact with the victims, cannot violate any current civil/criminal no contact order, and cannot hold a position of fiduciary responsibility over any charity, charitable gaming, raffle or similar types of activities.
At the sentencing hearing, Jones’ first request was to change her plea to “not guilty,” citing, “I wasn’t the only one involved,” and “I want to get an attorney.” Judge Opat, presiding over the hearing, noted Jones’ submission of the Petition to Proceed as ProSe Counsel signed and submitted by Jones on Aug. 22, and her guilty plea entered the same day under oath as he rejected her request.
Further civil claims have been filed in Fillmore County by First Southeast Bank on Sept. 16 against Jones and her Harmony and Waukon business Tin, Rust & Harmony, including repossession of all inventory, vehicles, equipment, farm products, documents, deposit accounts, et al (collateral Jones listed upon securing the loan) due to default of the $229,000 loan taken out in August 2021, per the signed Security Agreement for the Harmony building Jones’ business was operated from. $188,686.21 in principle remains on the loan, not counting interest and late fees. Fillmore County Court has ordered Jones to provide the collateral to the bank, disclose the location of the collateral to the bank for acquisition, or appear at a hearing Nov. 22 to present defenses to the claims.
A Consumer Credit Contract was filed in August in Benton County, Minn., from debt collection corporation PYOD, LLC., seeking the $1,171.24 per court judgement from Jones in May of this year. The original creditor was Credit One Bank N.A.
The State of Iowa filed charges of Theft 3rd Degree in Allamakee County on Aug. 28 this year, based on a criminal complaint lodged with the Waukon Police Department. Jones’ arraignment in this case was scheduled for Oct. 31 at 9:30 a.m.
A new suit was recently filed on Oct. 4 in Chickasaw County to recoup funds from dishonored checks from Tin, Rust and Harmony, LLC totaling $32,417.27. More than $4,284 is also sought for commission due from sales in June, August and September 2021, in which inventory was sold by Tin, Rust and Harmony, but no commission, as agreed, was paid. Marsha Angell, filing the suit, also claims inventory was sold at a higher discount than agreed upon, and is seeking $792.53 variance, in addition to repayment of a promissory note to be paid by September 2020, (default notice sent to Jones on Oct. 10, 2021) and interest accrued totaling over $13,600. Altogether, the filing lists at least $52,156.25 allegedly owed to Angell, due from Tin, Rust and Harmony and/or Mindy Jones. Jones was served with notice of civil action on Oct. 12, in Waterloo.
Reports from individuals who grew up with Jones have reported that they knew of her first alleged theft when she was 14. They stated that Jones was working at a local drive-in restaurant and took the money bag home at the end of the night instead of depositing it as instructed. At that time, it was noted that Jones had spent the money she took. It was reported Jones was a very intelligent girl but was somehow always mixed up with bad checks or using other people’s credit cards.
Jones, who has a trail of at least 25 court cases in Iowa alone for theft or small claims cases of nonpayment, has left her mark on those she had conducted business with in the past. Whether it has been past due rent, unpaid merchandise, unpaid loans for vehicles, trailers or toys, Jones has a history of using people, including those closest to her. It has been reported Jones left her own extended family members and in-laws with up to hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt, often asking people to co-sign on her loans, which then defaulted and the co-signors are left with the burden of debt.
Jones had moved to Waukon by February, opening a second location of her store there. The Waukon location of Tin, Rust and Harmony closed suddenly due to a fire that consumed the store, and a neighboring store in February this year. The fire remains under investigation.
Reports have been received that some of Jones’ debtors in Allamakee County have recently received payments in full on debts owed just before legal action was threatened to occur. One payment reportedly came in on a check from Schott’s Trucking near Waterloo for $1,100 just a few days before the scheduled hearing for that debt in Waukon on Sept. 14.
The people coming forward with reports of Jones’ past and other actions have requested anonymity for fear of retaliation against themselves or their property by Jones or associated parties.