A 35-year-old Bloomington woman is facing a felony theft charge after employees and her client accused her of taking cash that was stowed away in a condemned Burnsville hoarder home her company cleaned.
Nicola Clare Havens, owner of Seriously Organized, was charged by summons and faces a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment and a potential fine of up to $10,000.
The investigation into Havens began when five of her employees contacted the Burnsville Police Department to report Havens had stolen money from a customer whose home had been condemned by the Burnsville Fire Department due to hoarding and code issues.
The company began work at the home in the first week of December, and during the first week, employees located large amounts of cash stowed in envelopes throughout the house -- a common practice among hoarders. The victim told police she maintained a practice of putting $250 out of her pension payments into an envelope each month.
The employees told police they had been told not to take the money from the envelopes and instead placed them, unopened, into a plastic tote inside the home; however, there was no policy for documenting when the currency was found. The employees did not count the bills and handed the tote over to Havens at the end of the week.
According to the criminal complaint, Havens gave the homeowner $18,000 and said that was the sum found during the cleaning, but the victim became very upset because Havens had taken the money out and counted it against her instruction.
Furthermore, employees later located an additional $5,000 after the first sum was given to the homeowner. Charging documents allege Havens later approached that employee to say she kept the cash because the client still owed a balance for their services and insinuated that the victim had not been told about the find.
Four other employees also told investigators that Havens admitted keeping the money, but the story kept changing. Havens allegedly told the first employee that she took $2,000 and told subsequent employees the amount was $1,000.
On Jan. 11, the victim's son contacted the police department to report that several employees, along with neighbors, had witnessed Havens putting the victim's personal belongings into her vehicle. Officers were provided with a list of missing items from the home.
Employees said Havens told them they needed to locate the items because a criminal investigation was being threatened and all personnel would be liable.
On Feb. 8, police spoke with the victim herself because she was concerned about important paperwork -- including checkbooks and passports -- that were still missing. She also stated that the envelopes located by the cleaners had been opened instead of placed inside the designated box.
Havens spoke with a police investigator on Feb. 27, and she admitted that a 120 items were reported missing by the victim after the work was complete; however, she said 78 of the items were found. She also admitted taking about 200 envelopes home with her, removing an estimated $18,000 from them and returning that money to the client. She also admitted to taking roughly $1,000 in cash without permission because she was afraid she would not be paid; however, no credit to the victim's total was made.