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Woman who stole from drowning victim's GoFundMe sentenced for bad checks

Retina Rayellen LaValla

BAUDETTE, Minn.—A northern Minnesota woman who was convicted of stealing money from a fundraising account for three men killed in a 2015 Lake of the Woods boating accident has been sentenced to serve time in prison after being convicted for writing bad checks while on probation.

Retina Rayellen LaValla, 30, was sentenced to serve 42 months in prison last week after being found guilty of writing a bad check-- a violation of her parole from a conviction for stealing money from a GoFundMe account she set up for three victims of a October 2015 boating accident.

In three months, almost 400 people donated more than $27,000 to the page after Justin Haugtvedt, 22, Cody Ostendorf, 24, and Keith Ayers, 28, went missing in a boating accident Oct. 3, 2015, on Lake of the Woods. The bodies of Ostendorf and Haugtvedt were found a week after they went missing near Flag and Oak islands, respectively. Ayers was found dead last year near Powder Island, a small island on the Ontario side of the lake.

Investigators found LaValla had used some of the fundraised money to pay personal bills.

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