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West Fargo yard man charged with check forging, stealing $28,000 from employer

WEST FARGO – A West Fargo yard man faces felony theft and forgery charges after allegedly using his paycheck from odd yard jobs to steal more than $28,000 from one of his clients.

Zachariah David Birnbaum, 25, was charged Friday in Cass County District Court with one count of forgery and one count of theft, both Class B felonies, and one count of violating an order prohibiting contact, a Class A misdemeanor.

Court documents say a West Fargo homeowner, David Krueger, contacted police last Tuesday to tell them he wanted to file a police report for theft.

At the time, Krueger was at Gate City Bank in Fargo. He received a call from bankers saying his account was overdrawn.

There were 14 checks written out to a Zach Birnbaum, a banker told the police – many of which were in large quantities – beginning on May 26 and going through July 19.

Krueger told the West Fargo officer that he hired Birnbaum to do odd jobs and yard work for him about two months ago and ending about two weeks ago.

They agreed on a rate of $10 or $12 an hour, Krueger told the police officer, and he paid Birnbaum by check.

Krueger did not authorize 12 of the checks, which totaled $28,050, he told the officer. Two of his checkbooks were missing, he reported.

Court documents say Cass County Jail officials recorded a phone call July 30 between Birnbaum, who was in jail custody, and his girlfriend. Birnbaum was in jail for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend the previous weekend.

Birnbaum allegedly told his girlfriend the two needed to get out of town, and the girlfriend told him she was contacted by a West Fargo detective about the theft case.

Birnbaum’s bail was set at $5,000 cash. His next court appearance is set for Aug. 28.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Emily Welker at (701) 241-5541