STANTON — A Howard City husband and wife pleaded guilty to fraud charges Thursday in 8th Judicial Circuit Court.
Nikolaus Warren, 21, and Marcia Warren, 20, were originally charged with 10 felony counts each involving the theft and use of a financial transaction device.
The Warrens each pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of financial transaction device — stealing/retaining without consent (a possible four-year felony) and one count of financial transaction device — illegal sale or use (a possible four-year felony).
On July 2, Howard City police officers began investigating the theft of a Social Security credit card and 10 subsequent fraudulent transactions — nine of which occurred at Howard City businesses. The card had been stolen from a parked vehicle at a Montcalm County park while the owner was swimming at the beach.
Police obtained several sore security videos of a man and a woman using the stolen credit card to purchase more than $500 worth of items.
On July 10, police posted photographs developed from the security videos on the police department’s newly activated community alert notification system “Nixle” at howardcity.org online.
By the morning of July 11, tips from citizens were coming into the police department. The Warrens were identified, located and arrested that same day with assistance from the Montcalm County Sheriff’s Department.
“We would like to thank the citizens who have signed up for the Nixle alert service and assisted in this investigation,” said Howard City Police Chief Steve DeWitt.
The Nixle Community Information Service allows police to create and publish messages to be delivered to subscribers instantly via a cell phone text message and/or email. Notifications can also be accessed at nixle.com and/or howardcity.org online.
“We’ve been looking for an easy and quick way to notify our citizens of important notices and the type of activity we are engaged in,” DeWitt said. “We are excited to implement this program to keep our citizens informed. The service is secure, reliable and easy to use.”