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Duluth police say Woodbury man stole $170,000 from mom

A Woodbury man made his first appearance in St. Louis County District Court Aug. 7 accused of stealing about $170,000 from his vulnerable mother.

Errol John Gilbertson II, 31, of Woodbury, is charged with six crimes: financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult, two counts of theft by swindle, insurance fraud, felony issuance of dishonored checks and financial transaction card fraud.

The criminal complaint alleges Gilbertson told police he used his mother's money because of his addictions to methamphetamine and gambling.

Investigator Shana Greene of the Duluth Police Department's Financial Crimes Unit interviewed Gilbertson and several witnesses and obtained a search warrant to review the financial records of Vicki Gilbertson -- the defendant's mother -- in building the criminal case.

According to the complaint, Vicki Gilbertson was diagnosed in January 2007 with brain cancer. She also suffered from dementia and aphasia. At the time of her diagnosis of cancer she had more than $160,000 in her bank accounts. When she died at age 58 on July 22, 2007, her two bank accounts had negative balances of -$9,880.51 and -$944.00.

"It certainly is egregious, and fortunately we don't see many cases with this dollar amount coming through our office; I think they're pretty rare,'' said St. Louis County Attorney Melanie Ford.

The complaint alleges that the defendant took out a credit card in his mother's name without her consent or knowledge and used it to spend $89,049.89.

After his mother died, Gilbertson attempted to cash two of her Social Security checks. He's also accused of withdrawing $70,000 from an insurance account of his mother's by faxing power of attorney papers to show that he had the authority to make the request. It's unclear from the complaint whether the defendant actually had his mother's power of attorney.Gilbertson refinanced his mother's home and received an equity check for about $30,000. The home was refinanced for $112,000 and payments were not made. The home is now in foreclosure.

The complaint alleges that the defendant purchased a 2007 Chevy Equinox with his mother's money and forged her signature to turn the title of the vehicle over to himself. He refinanced the vehicle and received a loan of about $20,000. The defendant also admitted using a falsified W-2 form to obtain the loan.

Greene reported that Gilbertson told her that he had written more than $15,029.70 in bad checks from his mother's accounts, which were closed or no longer had sufficient funds.

According to court records, Gilbertson has been charged with nine thefts in St. Louis, Carlton, Cook and Dakota counties. He also has two pending cases for violating orders for protection in Washington and Hennepin counties.

The defendant is being held in the St. Louis County Jail. His next court appearance is scheduled for Aug. 25.