A Hopkins woman known for handling estate sales in the Twin Cities is in hot water, after being charged with stealing almost $150,000 from her clients.
Through MJ & Associates, 71-year-old Mary Jane Thompson built a "solid business" handling estate and moving sales on behalf of homeowners in the west metro area, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said in a press release.
But from June 2013 onwards, Thompson is said to have stopped paying her clients the proceeds from the sales of their personal property, with Minnetonka saying it investigated "numerous cases" in the city, and at least one in Edina and Hopkins.
Thompson was charged Thursday with one count of theft over $35,000, and is accused of failing to give $148,000 she owed to her clients over a two-year period.
"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."
The attorney's release says that Thompson would sign a contract with a client to oversee the sale of their estate, and commit to paying them 70 percent of the proceeds within 30 days.
But she stopped paying, with one client said they were told "false promise after false promise" after they called asking her for their money.
On some occasions she would write a personal check but ask the client not to cash it for a few days until she could get them a cashier's check. When the client lost patience and cashed the check, it bounced because there wasn't enough money in Thompson's account.
In several cases clients won civil judgements against Thompson – but still didn't get their money. The attorney's office said she is even alleged to have "pulled the scam on a longtime friend."
She has been charged by summons will make her first court appearance on Aug. 13.