A 79-year-old Rice Lake resident has been charged with writing forged checks to his employer’s bank account while the victim was hospitalized with COVID-19, according to Barron County Circuit Court documents.

A complaint filed Monday, May 16, 2022, identifies the defendant as Larry A. Titel, 19 W. Coleman St., Rice Lake.

The complaint said the investigation began on April 6 when the victim, identified only as D.A.D., came to the county dispatch center. D.A.D. had a number of checks from Dairy State Bank which he said had been written by the defendant. Each check listed D.A.D. as the payor and was payable to the defendant.

The victim’s visit came five days after a witness, Christie K. Hatlestad, had informed dispatchers about the alleged forgery.

D.A.D. told investigators that he is a farmer and also owns a campground in Barron County. He said that in 2020, he hired the defendant to help build a pavilion and do odd jobs. D.A.D. said that he mostly paid the defendant in cash, but did write him a few checks.

In August 2021, D.A.D. was hospitalized with COVID-19. He said Hatlestad then took over milking cows and cleaning his home until he was released from the hospital. Hatlestad later told D.A.D. that she had placed some cash in a secure area, but later found it was missing.

A bank overdraft arrived at D.A.D.’s home on March 24, 2022. He checked a drawer where he keeps his checkbooks and found one checkbook missing. Three carbon copies were also missing from the cancelled checks.

Investigators found that there were 27 allegedly forged checks written to D.A.D’s account between Oct. 18, 2021 and March 28, 2022.

Questioned later by another detective, the defendant allegedly admitted writing out the checks because “he needed the money (and) D.A.D. wasn’t around.”

Together with the missing cash, the total loss was estimated at $3,000.