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Alleged con man convicted of lesser chargeTell North Platte what you think
Courtesy Photo­Image
Christopher Fichtner
Courtesy Photo­Image
Kelli Kaps
Courtesy Photo­Image
Dustin Dowhower
Courtesy Photo­Image
Shanna Wilson

Christopher Fichtner of North Platte was convicted of attempted forgery on Nov. 5 after he pled guilty to writing a bad check in June and driving off from a North Platte car dealership with three pickups.

Fichtner wrote a check for three vehicles at Janssen Motors on June 26. After he left with the vehicles, the dealer found that not only were there insufficient funds in the account to cover the checks, and Fichtner’s name was not listed on the account, a North Platte police spokesman said.

Fichtner was charged with felony theft by deception and second-degree forgery. He paid the required 10 percent of a $25,000 bond four days later and was released, according to sheriff’s records. In a plea agreement with the Lincoln County Attorney’s Office, the charge was reduced from second-degree forgery.

Lincoln County District judge Donald Rowlands ordered Fichtner to undergo a pre-sentence investigation as well as a psychological evaluation and set sentencing for Jan. 28.

Others contacted the Bulletin to say that Fichtner has a pattern of buying things with money he doesn’t have.

The George Fowler family of Miles City, Mont. said Fichtner became romantically involved with a daughter in mid-2010, and for seven months, he went on a spending spree, buying horses, bulls, vehicles and farm equipment without the money while the family picked up the tab and made apologies.

In May 2010, Fichter allegedly talked the girl into buying seven horses at a sale in Bowman, N.D., with Fichtner’s promise that money would be put into her account. No money was ever transferred, and the family ranch had to cover the check.

“We had never in our lives dealt with someone like him,” Jeremy Fowler said. “Where we were brought up and raised here in Montana, we take people at their word and that is that.”

Fowler said Fichtner later bought three tractors, two balers, a swather and a bale mover from two separate John Deere dealerships, claiming he was with Fichtner Land and Cattle of McCook, which had a Farmplan (credit) account, so the dealerships thought he would come up with the money. Nothing was ever paid to them, Jeremy said, so the family ended up paying money to both dealerships to cover their time and trouble.

Fowler said Fichtner’s scams continued until November.

A caller from Nebraska, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Bulletin that Fichtner contacted her during the summer about buying some items she had for sale, but when the time came to seal the deal, he said he couldn’t come up with the money. She said he spun a tale about the drought and valuable hay he’d had that burned in a fire, playing on her sympathies.

She contacted the Bulletin as she checked for a report of the fire that Fichtner described, but found none.

“It was like he wanted me to offer to give him a lot of money,” the woman told the Bulletin. “It makes me sick to think about.”

A Utah woman, Mindy Trussell, told the Bulletin that Fichtner repeatedly tried to obtain bank account information.

She first met Fichtner on facebook and later in person. She said he told her he was wealthy and offered to wire money straight to her account if she would give him the numbers.

She didn’t, in part because her father was suspicious of him.

“He is pretty good at trying to scam people,” Trussell said. “He is a con artist, out to take from anyone he can. I think he is mental - crazy.”

Trussell said Fichtner more recently tried to contact her through facebook, using the last name O’Dea.



In other district court action Nov. 5:

• Kelli Kaps, 33, of Sutherland, pleaded no contest to theft by taking, $200-$500, a class one misdemeanor. She will serve six months of probation. Kaps was charged with embezzling from about $6,700 from North Platte dentist David Johnston during a two-year period, beginning in April 2010, while she was a front office clerk.

• Troy Culpepper, 26, of North Platte, pled not guilty to two counts of burglary, possession of a stolen gun and felon in possession of a firearm.

Culpepper became a suspect in the burglary on Aug. 29, Police Information Officer Rodney Brown said. An alleged victim told the cops that four guns, a knife and $1,000 cash were taken. A few days later police received a tip to the possible whereabouts of the guns, and after investigating they suspected Culpepper of having at least one of the guns. They obtained a search warrant and found a Steyr AUG .223 assault rifle in Culpepper’s car along with a knife of the kind stolen. Culpepper is a convicted felon so a charge of a felon in possession of a firearm was added.

Culpepper is free on bond after posting 10% of $25,000.

• Stephen Hoven, 37, of North Platte, pled not guilty to two counts of possession of a controlled substance. Hoven is also charged as a habitual criminal and if convicted faces 10-60 years in the penitentiary.

Hoven’s priors include being a fugitive from justice in both Nebraska and South Dakota, assault, burglary, possession and distribution of methamphetamine, possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, and possession of psilocybin. He has previously served two terms in the penitentiary.

• Dustin Dowhower, 19, of North Platte, pled guilty to attempted distribution of methamphetamine and child abuse. He will be enrolled in the drug court system.

• Shanna Wilson, 41, of North Platte, pled guilty to distribution of marijuana and felony child abuse. She will be enrolled in the drug court system.


This report was first published in the Nov. 7 print edition of the North Platte Bulletin.


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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 11/12/2012
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