FARGO - A former West Fargo day care operator is accused of stealing the identities of two people to pile up more than $76,000 in credit card charges.
Tracy Rankin pleaded not guilty Wednesday in federal court to five counts of mail fraud and two counts of identity theft. Her trial is scheduled for May 4.
Authorities said Rankin used the names of Arlen Tenold and Rebecca Diemer to obtain at least seven credit cards. Tenold, who attended Wednesday's hearing, said afterward that he nearly lost his house as a result. He said Rankin was a former girlfriend.
"She took multiple cards out in my name and maxed them out," Tenold said.
"It was financially devastating," he said.
Rankin was the operator of the King of the Jungle day care center, which shut down in November. Some parents did not know the center was closing until they saw a note on the door when they went to drop off children.
Rankin faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted on each of the mail fraud counts, and 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of the identity fraud charges.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Klein released Rankin on a promise to appear at future hearings and ordered her to surrender her passport. Rankin told Klein she would hire Fargo attorney Bruce Quick, who was not available for comment.