Man pleads not guilty to car theft, check forgery

Published 11:01 am Saturday, July 29, 2017

A man arrested for allegedly driving a stolen car with a forged check inside pleaded not guilty to several charges in Mower County District Court on Friday.

Joshua Robert Drabek, 27, of Owatonna has been charged with felony theft-taking/driving a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent, felony check forgery-make or alter check, felony check forgery-offer with intent to defraud and misdemeanor driving with a revoked license.

According to the court report, an Austin Police officer stopped Drabek in the 500 block of Highway 218 South on Wednesday, July 26, after running the license plate of the 2005 Ford Freestyle Drabek was driving, which came back as stolen. The vehicle was reported stolen on July 19.

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The officer handcuffed Drabek and searched him, finding a marijuana pipe in his pocket. He then placed Drabek in the back of his squad car and ran his information. The officer leaned that Drabek’s license had been revoked and that he was on probation in Rice County.  The officer then had dispatch advise his probation officer of the situation and placed a hold on him.

Drabek allegedly told the officer he had borrowed the Ford from “Tony Fisher” four to five hours prior while in Owatonna and was staying with a woman in Austin.

Two women walked by the scene; one said she was Drabek’s girlfriend and the other said Drabek was staying with her at her residence in the 600 block of Ninth Avenue Southeast. One of the women claimed Drabek had made a down payment on the car and the officer said Drabek told him he borrowed it. The women then left the scene.

While searching the vehicle, officers allegedly found a previously cashed check for Walmart in Drabek’s backpack. The check was from an account that did not belong to Drabek.

Drabek claimed he did not know the Ford was stolen.

Officers transported Drabek to Mower County Jail and asked him more questions. Drabek allegedly stated that “Tony Fisher” was a friend of his girlfriend who had been in possession of the Ford for “a couple months.” He also allegedly told officers he did not know whom the check belonged to, but he had used it to purchase $275 worth of goods from Walmart.

Police contacted the check’s owner, who told them that no one had permission to write the check.

Police learned the Ford had been sold to a woman in Mankato, who had reported it stolen. The woman was advised on how to get her vehicle back.

Drabek has previous convictions for motor vehicle theft, check forgery, and drug offenses. He has also had numerous license suspensions for failure to appear in court or pay fines.

Drabek’s trial is scheduled for December.