For Immediate Release
October 27, 2010
Contact: Dave Guilmette 624-9257 or Matt Dunlap 626-8400

Bureau of Motor Vehicles Detectives in Cooperation with Maine State Police Arrest Utah Couple on Charges of Aggravated Forgery and Marijuana Cultivation

AUGUSTA, MAINE—A Utah couple was arrested and has been indicted on charges of aggravated forgery and cultivation of marijuana, which was discovered in August after the execution of a search warrant. Frank Terhaar and Michelle Hank, formerly of Salt Lake City, Utah, were living in a travel trailer in Durham at the time of their arrest. An in-depth investigation was conducted by Bureau of Motor Vehicles Detective Christine Buchanan and Senior Detective Everett Kaherl over a period of four weeks, which led to the issuance of the search warrant.

The couple promulgated a scheme involving obtaining birth certificates from other states in the name of deceased individuals, using information gathered from genealogical websites, and then applying for Maine identification credentials with the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

The detectives obtained arrest warrants from the District Court in Bath, and were assisted by  BMV Detectives John Gould and Gordon Carroll and Maine State Trooper Michael Chavez. At the scene they searched a vehicle and the travel trailer. During the search, they discovered a number of other identity documents in the name of deceased persons, as well as a system of manufacturing counterfeit Social Security cards.

A marijuana growing operation was also found on the campsite, with grow lights and a number of marijuana plants in different stages of maturity. The grow operation and plants were seized and charges brought in Lewiston court against the couple. Terhaar and Hank were indicted on the charges and remain in custody. Aggravated Forgery is a Class B felony carrying a maximum penalty of not more than 10 years in prison.

"This is an excellent example of fine detective work," said Guilmette. "Our detectives have many years of training and experience in detecting fraud and identity theft. While much of our work revolves around consumer protection, we also put a great deal of focus on crimes involving identity theft and misuse of state credentials." Dunlap added his thanks for the strong cooperation with other law enforcement agencies, in this case the State Police. “The nature of law enforcement often means you need assistance from other agencies, and we’re lucky in Maine to have so much commitment and talent in every agency, from the Federal agents in Maine and our State Police, Game Wardens, Marine Patrol Officers and county and local officers. We couldn’t do it without their help,” he said.