De Pere bank teller helps bring down major theft ring

Photos provided by Brown County Sheriff's Office
Photos provided by Brown County Sheriff's Office(WBAY)
Published: Jul. 1, 2019 at 4:33 PM CDT
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A De Pere bank teller is being hailed a hero for stopping what police believe to be a national theft ring.

Anjelica Marsala, 26, of Illinois, and Ashley Blevins, 24, of Tennessee, are charged in Brown County with multiple counts of fraud and forgery connected to the so-called Felony Lane Gang crimes.

Investigators believe Marsala and Blevins traveled from Florida to steal bank information and tens of thousands of dollars here in Northeast Wisconsin.

It all came crashing down on June 20, when a teller working at Nicolet National Bank in West De Pere noticed a familiar vehicle in the drive-thru. It turned out to be Marsala and Blevins, according to the criminal complaint.

"Kudos to her [the teller]. She is... she is the hero in this. She stopped this," says Officer Jedd Bradley, De Pere Police. "This whole thing, this whole case, doesn't get solved if that bank teller didn't do what she did. So kudos to her. They stalled them at the drive thru. They recognized there was fraudulent paperwork and fraudulent things going on and then eventually the De Pere Police Department responded and we apprehended them."

Over the past two months, police have warned banks across the area to be on the lookout for members of the Felony Lane Gang. The group is known to recruit women to impersonate victims. They steal credit cards and IDs from cars parked at gyms and spas. The women, disguised in wigs, go through the bank drive-thru using the farthest lane from the teller. It's known as the "felony lane."

The Brown County Sheriff's Office issued alerts in May after banks in Suamico, Howard, Bellevue and Green Bay were targeted.

In Brown County, they allegedly stole $30,048. They got away with another $33,461 from other locations in Wisconsin, according to the complaint.

Investigators say the women used rental cars and swapped out the license plates with stolen ones. It made them very hard to trace.

According to the complaint, they were working with at least two other men, who would give them a 10 percent cut of the cashed fraud checks.

On June 20, De Pere Police responded to a holdup alarm at the Nicolet National Bank on Scheuring Road. The teller had recognized an SUV in the drive thru that was linked to a previous fraudulent withdrawal.

The teller said the driver put a debit card, driver's license and check belonging to one of the victims in the tube. The teller noticed the front seat passenger's hair was "big and not right," reads the complaint. The teller pretended to process the check and take the money out. She placed an empty envelope into the tube and sent it back to the car. During this time she tripped the alarm.

Police arrived to find the SUV pulling out of the bank. They made a traffic stop and took Marsala and Blevins into custody.

Police executed search warrants on the vehicle after they arrested the duo.

Blevins told police that she was homeless and needed money. She said she had turned to prostitution. Some men approached her about another way to make money. She said they traveled to Indiana and later to Green Bay to cash checks.

Blevins told investigators she met Marsala, who she knew at "Jewel," in Green Bay. Marsala would drive Blevins to multiple banks to cash the checks.

The Felony Lane Gang is suspected of crimes in Illinois and Indiana. Local, state and federal authorities are working together to find victims.

"This is a huge deal. It is a big deal. It was a great apprehension to stop this crime because who knows how many more victims we could have had," says Bradley.

Marsala and Blevins appeared in Brown County Court Monday. The court set bond for each woman at $20,000.

Marsala is also charged with possession with intent to deliver heroin and possession of drug paraphernalia.