Maplewood Guardsman: House sale is nasty surprise A Maplewood soldier serving in Iraq says his wife sold their house by using false power of attorney.
By Paul Gustafson and Randy Furst, Star Tribune
Last update: May 14, 2007 – 11:26 PM
While deployed in Iraq, a Minnesota soldier got shocking news from the home front.
He says that his wife sold their Maplewood house using a false power of attorney, stole about $25,000 from his retirement accounts by forging his signature and moved to North Dakota, where she bought another house.
Staff Sgt. John Paul Kieser, a member of the Minnesota National Guard, contacted Maplewood police from Iraq two days after Christmas to report that his wife, Dana Marie Kieser, had sold their house without his knowledge.
That touched off an investigation that led on Monday to two felony charges of check forgery against Dana Kieser in Ramsey County District Court. She has agreed to appear in a St. Paul courtroom on the charges June 4, said Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner.
Although Dana Kieser sold the couple's Maplewood house -- valued at $199,900 -- and bought the Fargo house while her husband was at war and apparently unaware, both husband and wife are listed as owners of the new house.
"At this point, we don't have any information that the transaction involving the house was actually criminal. It's certainly bad form and certainly upsetting, but at this point we don't know that [the husband] will be out any money," Gaertner said.
This is the first time her office has brought criminal charges against someone accused of stealing from military personnel serving overseas, Gaertner said.
Reached at Dana Kieser's home in Fargo, an unidentified woman answered the phone and said: "The comment from the household is no comment."
Michael Gjesdahl, a North Dakota attorney representing Kieser, did not return telephone calls.
Separation caused strain
Ray Kieser of St. Paul, the sergeant's father, said that his son, who is 37, had a "strained relationship" with his wife because they had been apart for such a long time.
He said that "when husband and wife are separated, these kinds of things happen" and called it "one of the casualties of war." He said his son had told him about "some of the financial things going on." He added: "It's been very hard for him."
John Kieser told Maplewood police that, before deploying to Iraq in March 2006, he signed documents giving his wife power of attorney if he became physically or mentally incapacitated. Then, on Aug. 11, Dana Kieser signed and had notarized a document that falsely claimed her husband was incapacitated, according to the criminal complaint.
Lt. Col. Kevin Olson, a spokesman for the Minnesota National Guard, confirmed that John Kieser is a member of the Minnesota National Guard, currently serving in Iraq. Olson had no other comment. John Kieser could not be reached for comment.
Ray Kieser described his son as "a good family man and father." He was married in about 2002 and has two sons, 5 and 3, his father said.
Iraq stay was extended
Like several thousand other Minnesotans, John Kieser was deployed to Iraq in March 2006, and his stay in Iraq has been extended. It was "very tough" for his son to deal with these financial concerns back home while handling his duties in Iraq, Ray Kieser said.
His son, a graduate of St. Thomas Academy, spent six years in the Army, then graduated from California State University at Fresno and became an accountant. Ray Kieser said his son had passed a state exam to become a certified public accountant shortly before he was called up for Guard duty in Iraq.
Currently, John Kieser is stationed in southern Iraq. "I just pray and hope for the best," his father said. "I know he is in a relatively calm area."
Paul Gustafson • 651-298-1545 firstname.lastname@example.org
Randy Furst • 612-673-7382 email@example.com