By Shereen Siewert
A federal grand jury on Wednesday returned an indictment charging a 42-year-old Wisconsin Rapids woman with identity theft, wire fraud, conspiring to steal mail and possessing a forged check, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Scott C. Blader.
Shelby Bottensek is accused of conspiring with others “known and unknown to the grand jury” to steal mail from mailboxes, use credit cards found in the stolen mail, and use the identity of another person in the commission of a felony.
The indictment alleges that Bottensek and others conspired to steal over 350 pieces of mail addressed to more than 170 individuals and entities from mailboxes in Amherst, Wisconsin Rapids, Waupaca, Port Edwards, Nekoosa, Necedah, Plover, Portage, Wausau, Friendship, Janesville, Westfield, and Town of Saratoga, Wisconsin from August through October 2019.
Prosecutors say Bottensek and others would transport the stolen mail to Bottensek’s residence in Wisconsin Rapids, open the mail, and remove anything of value, including cash, uncashed checks, and credit cards.
The indictment also charges Bottensek with stealing and attempting to steal mail from two authorized depositories for mail in Wisconsin Rapids on Jan. 19, 2020.
In addition, Bottensek is facing four counts of wire fraud for allegedly using credit cards found in the stolen mail to put money in jail commissary accounts of an inmate in the Walworth County jail and an inmate in the Wood County jail, and to make online purchases and purchases at businesses in Portage and Wood Counties. The indictment also charges her with four counts of using the identification of another person during the alleged wire fraud violations.
The 11th count of the indictment charges Bottensek with possessing and uttering a forged security by using two corporate checks that had been stolen from the mail and contained forged signatures on the payor signature line to pay for items purchased at a business in Beloit.
If convicted, Bottensek faces a maximum penalty of 5 years in federal prison on the conspiracy charge, five years on the stealing mail charge, 20 years on each of the wire fraud charges, and 10 years in prison on the possession of a forged security charge. Each of the identity theft charges carries a mandatory minimum penalty of two years, which would be served consecutive to any sentence imposed on the wire fraud charges.
The charges against Bottensek are the result of an investigation by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Wood County Sheriff’s Department, and Plover and Grand Rapids Police Departments. Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel J. Graber is handling the prosecution.