ST. GEORGE — Police officers in St. George arrested a West Valley woman after a call to 911 for a welfare check ended in a search of the suspect’s car where authorities found drugs, documents and mail allegedly stolen that contained personal information on multiple individuals — one of many similar cases across the state involving the suspect.
On March 7, Tanya Michelle Turner was arrested and booked into jail following a call to the St. George Communications Center requesting that a welfare check be conducted at the Pilot gas station on the corner of S. 60 East and Brigham Road in St. George.
Officers arrived and spoke to Turner, who they suspected of having illegal narcotics from information received prior to their arrival, and the suspect consented to a request to search the vehicle.
Inside of the 2015 Hyundai Sonata, officers found a large number of small baggies that had smiley faces and marijuana symbols on them, as well as a number of baggies that contained what appeared to be marijuana and several baggies that contained suspected methamphetamine. Deputies also found several syringes and glass pipes with a white residue on them.
As the search continued, officers found $2,800 in cash as well as a financial card with a name that did not belong to the suspect and a number of checks made out to various individuals – none of whom were the suspect.
Authorities also recovered several pieces of mail that did not belong to the suspect and a closer inspection of the parcels revealed many of the documents contained the recipients’ personal information.
During an interview, the suspect admitted the substances recovered from the car were marijuana and methamphetamine and explained she had just gotten out of rehab and did not intend to see drugs. She went on to say the money found in the car came from her tax return and wages from her job.
She also said she found the financial card and then put it in her wallet and the checks recovered by police were from her job where she works in the payroll department. She also said the mail that did not belong to her was placed in her mailbox by mistake and she had not yet had the chance to return it to the sender.
While the suspect told police she had several medical issues that prevented her from going to jail, according to the report, the officer was under the belief that Turner would “continue this process as she has been arrested for all of these similar charges in the past,” the officer noted.
The suspect was arrested and booked into Purgatory Correctional Facility facing second-degree felony possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance and unlawful acquisition of a financial card and theft of mail, each a third-degree felony. She also faces three misdemeanors including theft by receiving stolen property for the checks found in the vehicle as well as possession of a controlled substance and a paraphernalia charge.
Several cases involving theft, forgery and narcotics have been filed in Northern Utah against the suspect and involve many similar crimes as what was found in the St. George case.
Multiple cases filed in American Fork and Orem
Similar previous charges have been filed against the suspect that she has already pled guilty to and is awaiting sentencing.
In a case from two months earlier, Turner was facing a total of 24 charges, including 11 counts of possession of a forgery device, possession of another’s identifying documents and possession of a controlled substance, each a third-degree felony, as well as 11 misdemeanor counts of mail theft. She was also charged with misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance and paraphernalia charges filed in January.
In that case, an officer patrolling a hotel parking lot in American Fork less than 10 minutes before midnight on New Year’s Eve noticed a white passenger car with its lights on and a driver who was moving around “erratically” before she put the car in reverse and started to back out of the parking lot.
As soon as the driver noticed the officer, the report states, she pulled back into the parking space and quickly exited the vehicle, but not before the officer recognized her as “a locally known drug user and seller,” he noted in the report.
The suspect told the officer she was looking for her keys and was “moving nervously and talking with cotton mouth,” which is when a K-9 team was dispatched to the parking lot and performed an exterior sweep of the car while Turner underwent a field sobriety test that, according to the report, revealed signs of impairment but not enough to prevent the suspect from driving.
The dog indicated the presence of drugs and when Turner refused to unlock the car to allow officers to search the vehicle, they obtained a warrant from an on-call judge shortly thereafter.
During the search, officers recovered an extensive amount of business and personal checks that did not belong to Turner as well as a number of bank cards with names that also did not belong to her and a Utah driver’s license in the name of another person as well. Officers also located various documents with bank account information and bank transaction receipts.
A typewriter was also recovered from the vehicle that appeared to have been used to alter a number of the checks also found in the vehicle that modified payee information to show herself as the person the checks were written out to.
Also located within the vehicle and on the suspect were illegal substances as well as drug paraphernalia.
During an interview, Turner admitted she knew there were checks and other items found in the car that could result in felony charges, and while she took ownership of the drugs and paraphernalia, she explained the drugs found in her jacket pocket were leftovers from before she went to treatment.
She went on to say she had already gone to jail for the checks found in the car and explained she had there was a period of about 60 days that she had not driven her vehicle, saying she was not sure “what other people may have put in her vehicle,” the officer noted.
The suspect also denied altering the checks and claimed her ex-employer would alter the checks before having her deposit them into the night drop box at the bank. She was arrested and booked into the Salt Lake County Jail hours later on the above-listed charges.
One month prior, Turner was arrested and booked into Salt Lake County Jail on 19 felony and misdemeanor charges, including 11 felony charges associated with mail theft, possession of a forgery device and possession of a financial transaction card as well as eight misdemeanor theft, possession of another’s identifying documents and drug charges.
The charges stem from a report of a lost wallet and during the investigation, officers learned the card owner’s bank card had been used across Utah and that Turner was a suspect.
Authorities caught up with Turner who denied taking the wallet, but a later search of the suspect’s vehicle would call the suspect’s statements into question when the man’s wallet and bank cards were located and recovered by police.
In June of last year, she was charged with forgery and other charges after a heating company in Orem reported checks that were stolen from the company’s mailbox. Later, the business discovered one of the checks was forged and then cashed for $2,000 by a suspect who was later identified as Turner.
Turner has yet to be sentenced on the above-listed cases after she pleaded guilty to a single charge in each case during a hearing held in 4th District Court in Provo on Feb. 26, while the remaining were dismissed. She is scheduled for sentencing on those cases April 7.
Following last weekend’s arrest, Turner appeared in 5th District Court where district Judge Keith C. Barnes ordered that Turner be released with conditions.
This report is based on information provided by law enforcement and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
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