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Tracy Rankin

Former West Fargo day care owner pleads guilty to fraud

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A former West Fargo day care owner pleaded guilty Monday to a felony stemming from mail fraud schemes involving several banks and two individuals.

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In exchange for the plea, federal prosecutors agreed to dismiss seven other charges filed against Tracy Ann Rankin.

The 31-year-old, who now lives near St. Cloud, Minn., is scheduled to appear next for sentencing Feb. 5.

Rankin owned King of the Jungle child care center in West Fargo until it abruptly closed nearly a year ago for several deficiencies.

A few months later, she appeared in court, pleading not guilty for bilking five banks out of $76,183 in a scheme that involved the identity theft of two people.

On Monday, defense attorney Bruce Quick and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Klemetsrud Puhl presented the plea agreement. The guilty plea carries a maximum sentence of 30 years, a maximum fine of $1 million, supervised release up to five years and a $100 special assessment fee.

Rankin, whose married name is Tracy Ann Roach, was formerly known as Tracy Ann Hendricksen.

She said little Monday except for telling U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson that she's now studying psychology as a sophomore at a university. Quick said he didn't know the name of the school.

About a dozen observers attended the hearing.

From October 2007 to November 2008, Rankin obtained the credit cards through fraud and identity theft, racking up $60,000 to $70,000 on credit cards.

She used the money for horses, horse trailers, a motorcycle and animal food, Puhl said.

According to Forum archives, Rankin was the subject of a number of small claims and collection cases, and filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition in 2007, listing debts of $55,293 and assets of $10,995.

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