Texas men accused of stealing checks in La Crosse, Onalaska

Allegedly stole from mailboxes, doctored checks, tried to cash
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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – Two Texas men were charged Thursday with misdemeanor theft and felony forgery for allegedly stealing checks from mail boxes in La Crosse and Onalaska, doctoring them to show larger amounts and trying to cash them at local banks.

The pair — Stephen Hoffman, 33, of Dallas and Kevin Mason, 41, of Grapeland — were charged Thursday in La Crosse County Circuit Court, both as a party to a crime. Judge Elliott Levine issued a nationwide cash warrant for Mason, who skipped his initial court appearance.

The main incident chronicled in the criminal complaint involved a check that an Onalaska woman put a check for $47.46 to an acquaintance in her mailbox in the 500 block of Court Road at about 9 p.m. Feb. 24. The woman noticed at 8:30 a.m. the next day that the flag was still up on her mailbox and the door was open, said the complaint from an Onalaska police officer.

The woman received a call from her credit union that morning saying two men were trying to cash one of her checks for $800, made out to a Calvin Johnson. The woman said she hadn’t made out a check of that size, doesn’t know a Calvin Johnson, and would press charges, according to the criminal complaint.

Security video showed the two men, both of whom had been in the county jail system where Hoffman remained but Mason had been released.

Each man tried to finger the other as the main culprit in that and other mailbox thefts, but evidence for this crime and others showed that both were involved, the complaint said.

Mason told a La Crosse County sheriff’s deputy that they used Heet, a gas line de-icer, to remove the original names and monetary amounts on the checks, using different names and increasing the amounts.

Hoffman was charged with two counts each of uttering a forgery and theft, as well as resisting or obstructing an officer. He is jailed on a $10,000 cash bond.

Mason was charged with two counts each of uttering a forgery and theft, as well as possession of the date-rape drug GBH.

Upon conviction, uttering a forgery carries a fine of not more than $10,000, and up to six years in prison, or both, and the misdemeanor theft, a fine of not more than $10,000, nine months in prison, or both.