The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

May 7, 2014

Police: Notary stole from state troopers and 177 other victims

By Karen Blackledge
The Daily Item

— DANVILLE — A former borough notary kept more than $31,000 she received from those seeking her services, including two state troopers from the Milton barracks, according to court documents.

The troopers were among four alleged victims asked to appear at Tuesday’s preliminary hearing for Natalie Wetzel, 45, charged with stealing from 179 victims.

Wetzel, free on $50,000 unsecured bail, waived her right to a preliminary hearing before Montour County District Judge Marvin Shrawder. She is represented by court-appointed attorney Leslie Bryden.

Montour County District Attorney Rebecca Warren said investigating officer, state police Trooper Mark Rider, chose the four alleged victims who would have testified had a hearing been held.

They included Troopers Jim Nizinski and Anthony Bickhart, of the Milton barracks. They said they had gone to Wetzel’s Danville notary office for an ATV transfer and a truck sale tax transfer.

Other alleged victims appearing were Kevin Kraiza, of Danville, who went to Wetzel for an out-of-state car title transfer; and Larry Hans, of Milton, for the transfer of a fifth-wheel camper from his father to him.

Warren said Wetzel’s bond company, and the state departments of Conservation and Natural Resources, Transportation and Revenue were also victims related to worthless checks, and that the bond company was a victim in making a claim against Wetzel’s license.

State police said the incidents occurred from February 2012 through February 2013.

Wetzel operated Wetzel Notary Service at 432 Mill St. The alleged included 15 people age 60 and older, state police said.

In most cases, Wetzel kept the money and fees she collected for her own personal use, troopers said.

Wetzel allegedly stole $9,479 in December 2012, $6,093 in January 2013, $8,058 in February 2013 and an additional $3,343.

She allegedly committed theft by deception involving $1,414 in June 2012, $1,438 in August 2012, $478 in September 2012 and an additional $752.

Police said the victims paid for transactions that included vehicle sales tax, vehicle title transfers, registrations, transfers and renewals, boat sales tax, boat title transfers, boat trailer title transfers, boat trailer registration transfers and renewals, trailer registration and renewals, all-terrain vehicle sales tax, ATV title transfers and registrations, snowmobile sales tax, title transfers and registrations, driver’s license renewals and birth certificate applications.

A search warrant was executed April 10 with police collecting seven boxes and a plastic bag of paperwork from the notary business.

In several weeks, they discovered numerous additional victims.

Wetzel faces 85 counts, including two counts of theft by deception, 12 counts of theft by failure to make required disposition of funds, 45 counts of worthless checks and 16 counts of possessing non-notorized titles without names and signatures.