In Room 162, police located a checkbook that was reported stolen out of a Buick, the coin changer portion of a vending machine stolen from Best Western Tower West Lodge, registration for a Dodge pickup truck owned by Black Hills Novelty, and paperwork from the Wyoming Department of Family Services addressed to Stephie Cestnik, among other things.
On Dec. 18, Gillette Police Department (GPD) issued a BOLO, be on the lookout, for Cestnik for alleged check fraud.
That same day, she was located by a Wyoming Highway Patrol (WHP) trooper at the Powder River Rest Stop in Johnson County. She was approached in response to the BOLO and arrested for an outstanding warrant.
Cestnik was advised of her Miranda warnings, yet consented to an interview at the Johnson County Detention Center, where she allegedly admitted to entering multiple vehicles following an arrest in Gillette for possession of a controlled substance, according to an affidavit of probable cause.
She was “out of money,” she said.
The 33-year-old now faces multiple charges for theft, burglary, and forgery in the Circuit Court of the Sixth Judicial District of Campbell County.
An open book
According to the affidavit, while in custody, Cestnik spoke freely about entering a parked car at the Days Inn by Wyndham in Gillette and taking checkbooks and sunglasses and attempting to use the stolen checks over a four-day period.
When attempts to use several checks failed, she allegedly entered another vehicle, an unlocked pickup truck parked at Gillette Physical Therapy, and took a checkbook. She later used a check from that stolen checkbook at Old Chicago to purchase $240 worth of food and gift cards.
She also admitted to entering a housekeeping room at the Ramada Plaza and Conference Center by Wyndham in Gillette, stealing paperwork and key cards, and staying overnight in an empty hotel room before being found by hotel staff and fleeing the scene.
Cestnik allegedly entered another vehicle while at the Days Inn and stole prescription sunglasses, an HP Flyer Red laptop, and several checkbooks, including the check that she had allegedly attempted to use and was later found at Menards, GPD Lt. Brent Wasson added.
Her telling of events matched up with a string of incidents previously documented, including a suspicious activity report on Dec. 15, where GPD responded to Menards after being alerted by staff that a female had allegedly attempted to use a personal check to pay for $732.51 in merchandise. When asked for her driver’s license, Cestnik allegedly told the cashier that she had left her I.D. in the car, and left to retrieve it. She never returned.
The check was recovered in the store’s parking lot prompting officers to contact its owner, who said that items had been stolen from their vehicle while parked at the Days Inn on Dec. 13.
Cestnik’s booking photos matched the female observed in Menards surveillance video footage.
“Cestnik is a white, 33-year-old female, 5’9’ tall, slim build, with red hair,” the affidavit stated.
Following her arrest, WHP searched her vehicle, a black-colored 2015 Nissan Pathfinder, and found numerous stolen items, including identification cards not belonging to her, Ramada hotel key cards, and a check from the checkbook that had been found in the Ramada, Room 162. Additional checkbooks, also not belonging to her, were found in her purse.
A search of the GPD records system showed that Cestnik has been arrested earlier in the month in the same Nissan. The SUV also matched the vehicle description that had been provided by Ramada hotel staff.
An investigation into one of the stolen checkbooks determined by handwriting comparison and the dates of the occurrences that thirteen checks had been written illegally, according to the affidavit, which also stated that the signature on the fraudulent checks appeared to be the same as the one that was used at restaurants including Old Chicago and Dickey’s BBQ Pit.
Additionally, a driver’s license number that had been written on the top of several of the fraudulent checks was only a couple digits off from Cestnik’s actual driver’s license number, according to the affidavit.
Resulting from the alleged events that transpired prior to Cestnik’s arrest, she now faces three counts of felony burglary, six counts of felony forgery, and one count of misdemeanor theft.
Cestnik made her first appearance in Campbell County Circuit Court last month on Jan. 17.
Now, Cestnik will also face additional charges for the alleged incidents that occurred Dec. 5 on Highway 59 near mile marker 98, when a Wyoming Highway Patrol officer arrested her for driving while under the influence of a controlled substance, failure to drive in a single lane, expired temporary registration, possession of a controlled substance in plant form, possession of a controlled substance in liquid form, possession of a controlled substance in crystalline form, possession of a controlled substance in pill form, and taking a controlled substance into a jail.
A preliminary hearing is tentatively scheduled for Cestnik at 10:30 a.m. on March 11. At that time, a decision will be made as to whether or not Cestnik’s case will be bound over from Circuit to District Court.