Hopkins woman charged with stealing nearly $150,000 from estate sale clients
A Hopkins woman well known for handling estate sales in the west metro area was charged with stealing nearly $150,000 from her clients, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Thursday.
Mary Jane Thompson, 71, was charged with one count of theft over $35,000. In the scheme, which ran from June 2013 to this past Monday when the charges were filed, prosecutors believe Thompson did not give $148,000 to her clients from the sale of their property.
“Ms. Thompson had built a solid business as MJ & Associates doing moving and estate sales for many years,” Freeman said. “Why she suddenly started to cheat her clients is not clear, but it doesn’t matter. Those clients were counting on the money, she held onto it and we will now prosecute her vigorously.”
Minnetonka police investigated numerous cases in their city as well as at least one each in Edina and Hopkins. In several cases, the clients had won civil judgments against Thompson, but still received no money.
Thompson followed the same pattern in nearly every case. Thompson would sign a contract with a client to oversee the sale of their estates or parts of their personal property. She committed to pay the client 70 percent of the proceeds within 30 days, according to the criminal complaint. However, she simply stopped paying. People would call her, but as one client said, all they heard was “false promise after false promise, lie after lie,” the complaint states.
Sometimes, Thompson would write a personal check for the correct amount but ask the client not to cash it for a few days until she could get them a cashier’s check. When the client eventually lost patience, the personal check would be returned because there were insufficient funds in her account, according to the complaint. She even pulled the scam on a longtime friend.
Thompson was charged by summons and her first appearance court appearance is scheduled for August 13 in the Public Safety Facility.
Thompson complaint PDF