A Natrona County resident on Friday pleaded not guilty to dozens of charges of forging thousands of dollars worth of checks from his elderly mother-in-law while her husband was dying.

Roy Davis, 46, entered the plea during his arraignment before Natrona County District Court Judge Daniel Forgey.

In January, Davis initially was charged with two felony counts: exploitation of a vulnerable adult and receiving stolen property valued at more than $1,000.

Soon after that, he was charged with 35 additional counts of forgery.

Forgey read the first three counts, and Davis agreed to not hear him read the other 34 counts of forgery. Each of the felony counts carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine.

Davis' public defender Kerri Johnson asked, and Forgey agreed, to lower his bond to $20,000 cash from $50,000.

Davis has convictions for check fraud in 1999, forgery in 2004, escape in 2012, and a probation violation.

A Natrona County Sheriff's investigator began looking at the case in January when a son of the alleged victim said he recently assumed power of attorney responsibilities for his elderly mother, according to court records.

While reviewing her finances, he found 35 checks totaling about $19,900 that apparently were signed by someone besides his mother. The checks were endorsed to Davis or his wife, who is the victim's youngest daughter.

The victim told an investigator that Davis married her daughter in 2015. They moved into the victim's house on 8 Mile Road to care for her and her dying husband, who has since passed away. Following the husband's death, the Davises continued caring for her mother.

The victim said she did not sign any of the 35 checks in question dating to Dec. 5, 2016, nor did she authorize Davis to write any of the checks.

In a subsequent interview, Davis told the investigator that he and his wife had accrued a large amount of debt when they married.

Davis also admitted to being unemployed and having a substantial gambling problem he tried to hide from his wife. He said his wife was the only source of income in their household, other than Veterans Administration benefits the victim collected on behalf of her deceased husband.

About a year ago, Davis said he lied to his wife by telling her he would pay their monthly bills in cash, but instead used the money for his gambling habit and lost about $9,000.

Because of this, Davis told the investigator that he took his mother-in-law's checkbooks from her nightstand and forged her signature to write checks to himself. He used that money to pay minimum amounts on bills to hide the gambling debts.

He admitted to endorsing each of the 35 checks -- with amounts varying from $40 to $1,900 -- to himself or his wife, and said used some of the money to paying bills, and some would go "into [his] pocket," according to the affidavit. Davis told the investigator, "... he had 'done wrong', but stated he did it to keep his wife and mother-in-law happy."

His wife told the investigator neither she nor Davis had permission to use her mother's checkbooks. She said she knew of one of her husband's gambling debts in the amount of $1,500.

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