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Criminal Charges: Volume IV

Jeremy Simon

Credit card crimes aren’t stopping, so neither am I. Once again, I’ve rounded up more stories involving the criminal world’s notable misuse of plastic for this fourth edition of the weekly Criminal Charges blog column. Read on to find out whether anyone you know made the cut.

Shiny plastic, dirty cops
Wearing blue doesn’t make you immune from prosecution for credit card crimes. Take Mark Frisbie, former sheriff of Putnam County, Ind., who was charged Wednesday with federal program theft.

Frisbie, who resigned from his position two weeks ago, allegedly stole approximately $12,530.46 from the sheriff’s department between Jan. 18, 2006, and March 28, 2007, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Justice. Court documents indicate that “Frisbie allegedly stole the funds via unauthorized use of the PCSD Visa credit card account at First National Bank in Greencastle, as well as through unauthorized use of the sheriff’s department’s commissary checking account, which was housed at the same bank,” reports Greencastle, Indiana’s Banner Graphic.

The credit card and checking account funds were used for paying the cost of expenses and a personal business trip for Frisbee Security Consulting LLC (a private business owned and operated by the former sheriff), travel expenses for Frisbie’s stepdaughter, reimbursing himself for expenses and meals Frisbie had already been paid for via the sheriff’s department and covering the cost of campaign supplies for his 2006 re-election.

The cost could be high: The charge could leave Frisbie with a 10-year prison sentence and a maximum fine of $250,000, the Banner Graphic says. However, to paraphrase the great George Carlin, while Frisbie may get tossed somewhere, it’s unlikely he’ll remain stuck up on the roof.

Elsewhere, two former Pennsylvania police are in some hot water of their own. Katherine Leese and Gerald Conaway were charged Thursday with stealing more than $92,000 from the Bucks County Fraternal Order of Police, according to an announcement by District Attorney Michelle A. Henry. That money was originally set aside in a trust fund used to bury fallen officers.

Their positions apparently enabled access to the funds — Leese was the organization’s treasurer and Conaway was president. “A nine-year veteran, Leese used the $87,533 for credit card and mortgage payments, according to District Attorney Michelle Henry,” Trentonian.com reports. After finding out about her scheme, Conaway also got a cut of the action. “He learned of the transfers and allegedly asked Leese if it was alright to do that. She allegedly said yes and twice transferred the $5,500 to his personal account, Henry said.”

The Trentonian reports that their preliminary hearing is set for 2:30 p.m. Aug. 25.

You could call her a bad girlfriend
One recognizable sign that you are dating a bad girl: she uses your stolen credit card to pay for a hotel room she shares with another man.

Single male residents of Maine, beware. According to a report from Seacoastonline.com, “Bethany Eldredge stole her boyfriend’s credit card and used it to go out to dinner, buy liquor, go shopping and take another man to a city hotel, say police.”

Eldredge was arrested Thursday night following a police investigation.

While her boyfriend/victim seemingly missed the danger signs, at least his credit card issuer was alert: “The alleged victim told police that after he was notified about suspicious activity on his credit card, he went to the Best Western where he was told a room was rented in his name and asked front desk personnel for a key to the room,” Seacoast Online says. “When he got to the room, he found Eldredge with the other man and bags of clothing purchased with his card, police allege.” I hope he contested the charges.

Philippine politicos’ offspring vacation on corporate card
What employee wouldn’t welcome the opportunity to enjoy travel to exotic locales like Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Macau, Madrid and Paris — all on the company’s dime?

Enrique Quezon Avancee and Sophia Roco, the married offspring of two Philippine politicians, did just that. The criminal couple apparently decided that no longer being employed by a company was no reason for it not to foot the bill for their travel plans.

The grandson of late Filipino President Manuel L. Quezon and daughter of late Senator Raul Roco were charged on Friday with credit card fraud at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court.

Officials from information technology firm Information Gateway, human resources manager Maria Theresa Gonzalez and chief executive officer Eleanor Coliangco, accused the Avancees of using their credit cards without authorization. “Part of Sophia’s job was to make online bookings for overseas business trips of IG officers, all paid for through corporate credit cards,” reports GMANews.tv. “The Avancees allegedly used the cards to make online bookings of their travels abroad in 2007, though Sophia had already resigned from the company as contracts managers and executive assistant due to ill health.”

Keeping any frequent flier miles was probably out of the question.

See related: Criminal Charges: Volume II, Criminal Charges: Volume III, Citi allows text-happy Filipinos to charge by phone, Corporate card shenanigans — got some to share?

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If you’re still not tired of reading about credit card busts, you can look over the inaugural edition of Criminal Charges at the Aug. 18 edition of the Carnival of Fraud, hosted by the Fraud Files blog.

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  • Crazy stories. What always amazes me is how long and how much money can go missing before someone figures it out. When you’re talking about state and local governments with precious little extra money to spend on schools, how is it that the credit card company is figuring out something is amiss before the superintendent?