11-26-20: IDAHO FALLS – Deputies say an Idaho Falls woman stole a family member’s identity and racked up several thousand dollars in medical debt.
On Aug. 18, the Bonneville County Sheriff’s office received a call from a woman who had been served papers saying she had been sent to a debt collector due to unpaid dental bills, according to an affidavit of probable cause obtained by East Idaho News.
The woman told deputies she suspected that her relative, 50-year-old Toni Jo Lepper, stole her identity to apply for credit at a dentist’s office.
The victim reported that the dentist’s office would not say who applied for over $3,000 in credit in her name back in 2016.
While speaking with deputies, the victim said the dentist’s office admitted to never seeing her or having the victim as a patient.
The family member said Lepper has a history of taking family members’ money and stealing their identity to open credit cards. The relative also told investigators that in 2016, Lepper drained her bank account when she stole her identity.
Detectives spoke with Lepper on Sept. 4 about the alleged opening of the account.
“She stated, ‘I needed teeth,’” a detective wrote in the probable cause. “She later explained it was for dentures.”
Lepper explained to detectives she added her family member to the account without permission because the dentist would not give her credit herself. She also told investigators she knew it was wrong but things “got out of control,” according to court documents.
The reported $3,000 bill was sent to a former address of Lepper’s and never paid. It is unknown if the relative ever got a bill or even knew about the account until this summer.
A warrant was issued for Lepper’s arrest and she was charged with felony grand theft by larceny, embezzlement, extortion or by receiving stolen goods.
Law enforcement arrested Lepper on Friday then booked and released her from the Bonneville County Jail.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Nov. 13 at the Bonneville County Courthouse. If convicted of the felony charge, a judge could order Lepper to spend up to 14 years in prison and pay a $5,000 fine.
While Lepper is charged with a crime, it does not automatically mean she committed the crime. Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.