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Former Fond du Lac business owner charged with 5 counts of identity theft, fraud

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The charges stem from the accused fraudulent use of credit cards in summer 2023.

FOND DU LAC – A former Fond du Lac business owner has been accused of fraudulently using credit cards in the summer of 2023.

Lawrence H. Foster, 43, is charged with four counts of identity theft for financial gain and an additional count of unauthorized use of an entity’s identifying information.

Foster was an owner of Gathered Roots on Main Street in Fond du Lac, which opened in late 2021 as a retail store featuring local vendors and closed in June 2023. The Facebook post that announced the store’s closing had cited “personal losses” among the reasons for the closure.

According to a criminal complaint filed May 7, Foster approached two people with a proposal to start a creative marketing and videography business and filed the LLC for REVCOM Studios in May 2023. He had experience in creating LLCs, as he had two others, REVCOM Minerva Radix LLC and REVCOM LLC.

One of the alleged victims was the first person he’d approached, who started employment for REVCOM Studios in April, and the alleged victim told investigators Foster had acquired two business credit cards in her name. The criminal complaint showed the charges investigators could retrieve included cash advances to himself for the marketing business, payments to vendors for Gathered Roots and other charges unrelated to either business.

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The total amount of debt from the two cards amounted to $25,000. He tried to open a line of credit in a second alleged victim’s name, but was unable to, according to the criminal complaint.

By the time both of the alleged victims resigned from the business in July, the business had not done any for-pay work and was not making money.

The fifth count is related to one of Foster’s other LLCs, REVCOM, allegedly overbilling a local organization for IT services in 2022. While the organization had authorized automatic withdrawals from the organization’s bank account for a monthly retainer, the executive director noticed up to five payments per month being drawn.

The organization canceled REVCOM’s access to its bank account, but the business allegedly had access to directly bill and use the organization’s credit card for equipment purchases. The executive director then noticed duplicate charges in the summer of 2023.

The criminal complaint also includes testimony from the first alleged victim and a witness, who had both given personal loans to Foster and haven’t been paid back.

Foster’s former girlfriend and business partner at Gathered Roots told investigators she wanted to get out of the Gathered Roots business in September 2022, as she had no control of the business and no access to the money. Foster handled the financial side, and she stayed out of it, but because of the store’s financial issues, her savings were gone and her personal credit cards were maxed out to pay for expenses.

She also told investigators that up until the investigation, she hadn’t been aware of fraud, personal loans or any other information beyond Gathered Roots’ financial issues.

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The maximum penalty for each count is a $10,000 fine, six years in prison or both. Foster’s first appearance in court is scheduled for May 28 in front of Judge Doug Edelstein.

The Fond du Lac Police Department referred the case to the Oshkosh Police Department for investigation because of a potential conflict of interest. Chief Aaron Goldstein told The Reporter he requested outside investigation when he became aware of the allegation, as a family member works for the city of Fond du Lac.

Foster could not be reached for comment prior to publication, and a defense attorney is not yet listed in the case. Assistant District Attorney David Maas of the Fond du Lac County District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting.

Why we cover courts: This report is part of The Reporter’s mission to fulfill our obligation to follow criminal cases from arrest to their conclusion. The aim is to shine a light on the criminal justice process so readers can see how publicly funded law enforcement and courts function.

Contact Daphne Lemke at dlemke@gannett.com.

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