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Man sentenced to prison for check forgery, escape from custody

A former Frazee man was sentenced Wednesday in Becker County District Court on multiple felony charges including offering a forged check, check forgery and escape from custody.

Donald Arthur Merrill, 40, formerly of Frazee, whose current address was listed as 238 Zahwanong S., Mahnomen, was ordered to serve a total of 21 months in prison at the St. Cloud correctional facility, and to pay $210 in court fines and fees. He must also pay $1,751.91 in restitution.

Merrill was convicted on a charge of offering a forged check in connection with an Aug. 5 incident at Walmart in Detroit Lakes. According to the criminal complaint, he used a forged check to purchase almost $240 in cigarettes from the store; the check used was later found to have been stolen from a Detroit Lakes business on Aug. 3.

He was also convicted on a second count of check forgery for writing a total of $2,049 in forged checks on the account of a Detroit Lakes man who reported his checkbook stolen. A total of 19 forged checks were reported in Becker, Hubbard, Wadena and Mahnomen counties between June 14 and 25, 2010.

Charges of felony drug possession, misdemeanor trespassing and theft were also filed in connection with an Oct. 25, 2010 incident at Walmart in Detroit Lakes; those charges were dismissed per plea agreement.

While he was being booked into the Becker County Jail on the Oct. 25, 2010 incident, Merrill was also found to be in possession of a stolen checkbook.

A check from that account was used to try to buy cigarettes at Casey's General Store in Detroit Lakes; the check for $125 was refused because Merrill was unable to produce the required identification. A check forgery charge was also filed in connection with that incident, and Merrill was convicted and sentenced on that charge as well.

Merrill also had a prior conviction for felony theft in Clay County back in 2007.