Matthew Rose jail mug

Matthew Rose

CHEYENNE – A computer technician who is accused of stealing nearly $65,000 by forging checks from the Wyoming Mining Association in 2016 was recently transferred to Laramie County from the Wyoming Honor Conservation Camp in Newcastle to appear in district court.

Matthew Rose, 29, faces five counts of forgery and one count of theft. He is accused of stealing six checks from the Mining Association, forging signatures on five of them and ultimately depositing the money into his personal bank account.

According to court documents:

Rose was given after-hours access to the Mining Association office when the organization was preparing to move from 2601 Central Ave. to its current location at 1401 Airport Parkway #230. Rose was an employee for Geek Garage, which was subcontracted by Wyomingnetwork LLC to coordinate the transfer of telephone lines and computer equipment to the new office. He was given after-hours access from Aug. 1 to Aug. 5, 2016.

Around Oct. 27, 2016, two Mining Association employees, office manager Heidi Peterson and accountant Tammy Lantz, reported a theft by fraud to Cheyenne Police. Five checks were made out to Geek Garage that had not been authorized by the Mining Association, totaling $64,591.01.

Peterson had discovered the missing checks about two weeks earlier, around Oct. 11, 2016. The checks were kept in a box in a desk drawer that was not typically locked. Peterson immediately moved to stop payment on the checks, but Lantz found upon reconciliation that five of the checks had already cleared.

The checks, made out to Geek Garage, bore the electronic signatures of outgoing Executive Director Jonathan Downing and incoming Executive Director Travis Deti, who at the time had not yet been authorized to sign checks. Peterson said that both men’s electronic signatures were kept in a folder on Mining Association computers, and Peterson said it was possible Rose obtained the electronic signatures that way.

Investigators used a search warrant to obtain Rose’s account information from U.S. Bank and found that the five checks had been deposited into an account in the name of Garage Geek LLC.

The account had been opened by Rose on April 25, 2016.

Rose provided a certification stating he was authorized to open the account for Geek Garage and was listed as the only authorized agent. Jeran Artery, who was the co-owner of Geek Garage at the time of the theft, said Rose was not authorized to make financial decision, nor did he have access to company finances.

Rose deposited the first check into the fraudulent Geek Garage account on Sept. 22, 2016, in the amount of $14,360.98. The next day, Rose made four separate transfers totaling $14,360.98 to his personal U.S. Bank account. He then withdrew $12,000 in cash that same day from his personal account.

The second and third checks, in the combined amount of $22,794.32, were deposited into the fraudulent account on Sept. 23, 2016, then all but $200 was transferred to Rose’s personal account two days later. Rose completed cash withdrawals from his personal account for $10,000 on Sept. 26, 2016, and for $10,500 on Oct. 4, 2016. The remaining money in the account was spent on purchases made by Rose.

The final two checks were deposited on Oct. 7, 2016, in the combined amount of $27,435.71. Rose made three purchases in California four days later totaling $6,836.68 and transferred $6,832.04 from his personal account. That same day, Oct. 11, he transferred a total of $27,231.07 to his personal account, which left the fraudulent account at zero. He then closed the fraudulent account the next day.

Each charge of forgery carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, as does the single theft charge.

Jake Sherlock is the adviser and lead instructor for the journalism program at Laramie County Community College. He wrote this for the WTE as a freelance writer.

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