When Jared John Fiege was arrested in late August, he allegedly was in possession of passports, credit cards and other forms of identification belonging to more than 20 people.
The Duluth man had nearly $200,000 in cash apparently withdrawn from ATMs through a scheme involving funds meant for small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic, according to court documents. Authorities said another $35,000 had been swindled through fake unemployment claims filed in the names of eight unknowing victims.
Additionally, prosecutors say Fiege, 33, has "terrorized" two ex-girlfriends — causing well over $30,000 in damage to their vehicles, sending threatening messages and attempting to frame one for a harassment restraining order violation — in an alleged pattern of stalking behavior that continued until he was once again arrested last week.
The sheer volume and complexity of Fiege's alleged crimes, and his ability to continue posting bail — upward of $800,000 in recent years — has authorities citing "grave concerns about public safety" and questioning how much has yet to be uncovered.
"Due to the extensive nature of this fraud, as well as the number of victims, the true extent of the defendant's activities and harm to the public is not completely known," St. Louis County prosecutor Nichole Carter wrote in a court filing. "We have a minimum of 10 victims, but the true number is likely much, much higher."
'Binders of information' on victims
In early August, officials at Share Advantage Credit Union in Duluth were so alarmed by an "unusually large amount of cash" being withdrawn from an ATM that they contacted Duluth police.
According to court documents, an unknown man would arrive at the Maple Grove Road location nightly throughout the summer and make one withdrawal after another. Despite the warm weather, he always wore gloves and a mask, with a sweatshirt pulled over his head.
Investigator Ryan Temple learned the man was using several accounts that were funded by deposits from the Small Business Administration for loans intended to provide economic relief to small businesses under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.
The accounts allegedly had been set up in others' names, with debit cards sent to an address in the Saginaw area. Some of the victims, who are not identified, also reported that someone had tried to reroute their direct-deposit paychecks into an unknown account.
According to documents, Temple identified Fiege as a suspect and discovered some of the accounts were tied to a volunteer fire department in the Saginaw area, where he "was at times a volunteer firefighter." Fiege has in the past contacted the News Tribune and claimed to be a member of the Grand Lake Volunteer Fire Department.
Temple reported that he spoke with a township official, who said Fiege would frequently show up at the fire hall "at times when there was no fire department activity," claiming he was just using the restroom if questioned. A lot of mail was also coming to the fire hall addressed to unknown people, the official said.
Meanwhile, a business in the Saginaw area reported that four checks had been stolen from its mailbox and deposited into one of the accounts used by the suspect, according to the criminal complaint. Temple discovered that Capital One officials had been suspicious about the transactions, but Fiege had convinced the company that he worked for the business and was authorized to possess the checks.
Temple obtained a warrant to place a tracking device on Fiege's car. According to the complaint, he discovered that the defendant "would travel each day in a circuit around the town of Saginaw" and intercept any mail from Capital One, allegedly so that he could obtain the fraudulent credit cards.
Investigators arrested Fiege on Aug. 31 at the Share Advantage Credit Union ATM. While executing search warrants, police said they discovered approximately $170,000 in cash at his residence, along with two firearms that had been stolen from car prowls. Also found were several passports and credit cards.
In Fiege's truck, investigators allegedly found 14 cellphones, each with a different victim's name taped to the back. They also seized $19,000 in cash and "binders of information that contained account records from various individuals."
In the course of the investigation, police said they discovered unemployment claims filed in the names of at least eight people, all of whom said they had never applied for the benefits. The claims totaled over $35,000, according to the complaint.
Fiege is charged in that case with six felony counts, including identity theft, mail theft, theft by swindle, receiving stolen property and offering a forged check.
Victim says she was tracked, car totaled
Fiege posted a $300,000 bond in the fraud case before he was rearrested Nov. 12 on felony charges of stalking and property damage. A complaint filed this week alleges that he was seen on surveillance video repeatedly tampering with his ex-girlfriend's car.
After the vehicle was broken into in August, the woman brought it to the Kolar Automotive Group garage for repairs. While it was parked there, according to the complaint, Fiege was observed approaching the car and removing an object from the back. He then opened the hood and went into the engine compartment before starting the car, the complaint said.
Kolar employees told police that several small nuts had been placed in the oil cap, causing "extensive damage" to the motor. Fiege allegedly returned to the scene two days later, again starting the car. The complaint states that the vehicle was a total loss, with damage estimated at more than $25,000.
The victim reported that she had dated Fiege in the spring and that she began receiving strange calls and text messages after they broke up, according to the complaint. The woman, who said she had previously discovered a tracking device on her car, was described as "terrorized and very scared."
The incidents only continued. On Oct. 10, after the woman purchased a new car, she discovered all four tires slashed. The same occurred again Nov. 8 — and this time, authorities said, Fiege was recorded on video using a knife.
"It is very concerning that the defendant is using a dangerous weapon to commit these crimes, causing (the) victim to feel terrorized," Carter, the prosecutor, wrote this week.
At an arraignment Monday, Senior Judge Mark Munger set Fiege's bail at $500,000 and ordered that he have no contact with the victim. Regardless, he will remain jailed for the immediate future on an alleged probation violation stemming from prior theft convictions.
'Fear for the rest of her life'
Records show that Fiege is also facing six charges in three other pending stalking cases — one in Duluth and two in Washington County — involving behavior toward another ex-girlfriend.
In the Duluth case, he is accused of setting up an anonymous texting account to send threatening messages to himself, disguised as coming from the victim. A complaint states that Fiege contacted Duluth police in October 2019 to report that he received death threats and a photo of a handgun from the woman, against whom he had a restraining order.
Investigators discovered that the messages had been sent through an anonymous online application, using an account registered to the woman, according to the complaint. However, it was later determined that the messages were sent over a secured wireless network at a Duluth business, where Fiege had worked for two days.
When contacted by police, the victim reported that she had been in a relationship with Fiege from late 2017 to 2018. After they broke up, she said she began experiencing "frightening incidents," some of which are covered by the Washington County charges.
"She stated that she was so concerned about the defendant that she moved several times, to locations several hours away," one document notes.
According to the complaints, the woman's tires were slashed multiple times. She received harassing calls and messages. Her dog was taken at one point and Fiege was seen with it in Duluth. A brake line on her new boyfriend's car was severed.
The woman further reported that she had been contacted by an FBI agent after an email address in her name was used to send a threat to a National Guard member.
The incidents, according to a complaint, stopped when Fiege was in custody, and resumed once he was released.
"(The victim) believes that she will have to live in fear for the rest of her life due to the defendant's refusal to leave her alone," authorities wrote.
History of theft, false claims
Fiege's criminal history dates back to 2010, when he was charged with felony theft while working as an emergency medical technician for North Memorial Ambulance in Brainerd.
Documents show that over the course of two months, Fiege stole eight radios and six firefighter helmets, with a combined value of over $5,000, and attempted to sell them on eBay. He was subsequently fired.
While that case was pending, Fiege was hired at the Lake County Ambulance Service and worked two shifts prior to being terminated, according to documents filed with a regulatory board. Fiege later pleaded guilty to the theft charge and was stripped of his EMT certification.
In 2014, he was ordered to attend "John school" after being arrested in a Douglas County prostitution sting, resulting in a disorderly conduct conviction.
Court records show that Fiege has since been convicted in three other felony theft cases in St. Louis County.
In two instances, authorities said he posed an employee of various area businesses in order to swindle dozens of tires from dealerships. Some tires were later discovered at his home and in a storage unit that he rented.
In the other case, Fiege was convicted of running an insurance scam while working at Bullyan RV, where he was tasked with providing estimates and submitting paperwork to insurance companies. In early 2017, according to a complaint, it was discovered that he had submitted six fraudulent claims totaling more than $11,000, funneling the insurance payouts into a personal account.
He was to remain under supervised probation in those cases until Dec. 11.