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Felony charge filed against woman accused of gutting foreclosed Woodbury home

A Woodbury woman whose home fell into bank ownership after foreclosure is accused of gutting the house and selling off tens of thousands of dollars in fixtures before she moved out.

The suspect, Riana Bennerotte, was charged in July with one count of defeating securing on realty, a felony calling for a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

She made her first court appearance Sept. 14 in Stillwater.

The 35-year-old is accused of stripping out $57,650 worth of property from her former Eagle View Terrace house after ownership transferred to US Bank.

Police began investigating the situation in September 2010 after receiving a report from a Realtor. The Realtor told police he noticed the missing fixtures and "extensive damage" when he went to change the home's locks.

According to a criminal complaint, detectives discovered Bennerotte had placed advertisements on and other online services in attempts to sell items. A phone number listed on the ads belonged to Bennerotte.

Neighbors who were interviewed by police reported seeing and hearing activity allegedly connected to moving fixtures out of the house. Two neighbors reported seeing numerous vehicles at Bennerotte's residence for up to two weeks prior to her move-out, the complaint states.

One neighbor reported his wife spotted toilets laying in Bennerotte's yard days before she moved out.

At one point, a neighbor said he was approached by a woman seeking a shovel. The woman reportedly explained that she was responding to a Craigslist post and was buying landscaping from Bennerotte.

Another neighbor reported hearing hammering and pounding sounds coming from the house, then the apparent sound of a granite countertop - one of the missing items - being dragged through a garage onto a trailer.

A man who had responded to Craigslist ad told police he had signed a purchase agreement with Bennerotte and bought carpeting, a bathroom vanity and 14 doors from the residence, according to the complaint.

A contractor was hired to replace the missing and damaged property and estimated restoration costs at $57,650. That included installing granite counter tops, maple kitchen cabinets, kitchen appliances and 1,500 square feet of carpeting.

Bennerotte, who was booked and released from Washington County jail for court, returns to court Oct. 19.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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