Television bill prompts identity theft investigation

ELKINS – A Randolph County man was arrested Monday on identity theft and forgery charges after allegedly using other people’s names to sign up for Dish Network services, police said.

Lindsay Martin Stalnaker, 30, of Valley Bend, was arrested on one count of identity theft, one count of forgery, one count of uttering and one count of fraudulent use of an access device, all felonies.

Stalnaker was arraigned by Randolph County Magistrate George M. Riggleman and at presstime was being held in Tygart Valley Regional Jail on a $40,000 cash or surety bond.

According to the criminal complaint, Trooper J.B. Tindal of the Elkins detachment of the West Virginia State Police received a complaint on Feb. 11 from a man regarding a bill he said he was not responsible for from Dish Network.

The man said after he moved from Valley Bend to Elkins in January he began getting bills from Dish Network, and he had heard from other people who “believed that Stalnaker had Dish Network hooked up for other people in his name,” the complaint states.

The man said his daughter had an original copy of the Dish Network application that was sent to them and the signature on the application was not his, according to the complaint. The man also said “Stalnaker had satellite hooked up at several residences in his name” and Stalnaker “had gotten fired from Dish Network, but continued to hook up satellite for people,” according to the complaint.

Later that same day, Tindal received a three-page Dish Network contract with the alleged victim’s name signed on it as well as two letters from the bill collection agency Allied Interstate showing a balance of $1,150.50, according to court documents.

The complaint states Tindal met on Feb. 18 with Stalnaker, who said he initially met with the alleged victim in February 2008 to install a two-room Dish Network system and after the man didn’t want to use the system anymore, Stalnaker said that he had taken the “receivers home with him.”

According to the criminal complaint, Stalnaker told Tindal that he took the receivers “to his house and used them himself but paid the bill himself.” Stalnaker told Tindal “he later returned the receivers to (the alleged victim) and told him to return them so that he did not have to pay extra fees.”

Tindal wrote that on Feb. 23 he received an audio recording from the alleged victim’s daughter that, according to the criminal complaint, features Stalnaker telling her to have the man “drop the charges and he would send the satellite boxes to him to send back to Dish Network.” Stalnaker also stated in the recording that “both of the satellite boxes were at his residence,” the complaint states.

On March 11, Stalnaker met with Tindal, who informed him of the recording, according to the criminal complaint. Stalnaker invited Tindal into his residence, where Tindal located a satellite receiver box that was later determined to be one of the boxes in question, police said.

Later that day, Tindal obtained a statement from the alleged victim saying he did not know that Stalnaker had kept his satellite boxes, thinking Stalnaker had sent them back, the complaint reads. The alleged victim also said he did not give Stalnaker permission to use the boxes because he was unaware that Stalnaker had signed any paperwork entering him into a contract.

Contact Chad Clem by email at cclem@theintermountain.com.