A routine traffic stop resulted in welfare fraud and felony identity theft charges against a St. Johnsbury woman.
Deborah A. Clark, 62, pleaded not guilty to the charges in Caledonia County Superior Court on Thursday and was released on conditions by Judge Timothy B. Tomasi.
According to court documents, St. Johnsbury Police Ofc. Robert Gerrish spotted an un-inspected, white pick-up truck on Central Street on May 19 with a loud exhaust and a plate that was only partially visible.
Caledonia County Superior Court
Ofc. Gerrish said in his report that when he stopped the truck he found it was being driven by Clark, but also noticed some other things including “narcotics indicators” related to two of Clark’s passengers.
“The vehicle was seized pending an application for search warrant,” wrote Ofc Gerrish. “After this occurred, Clark stated she wanted her wallet back and gave me consent to search it via standard department issued consent card … Inside her wallet I found a Vermont EBT/Food Stamps Card made out to Christopher Ingalls, 30.”
Ingalls is Clark’s son.
Clark allegedly told police she was using the card with Ingalls’ permission when he was in Vermont, but commented that he was “now in jail out of state,” according to the report.
A subpoena for records associated with the card revealed that it had been used to make $267.40 in purchases at local stores including the Family Dollar, Price Chopper and White Market in St. Johnsbury, and the Cumberland Farms store in Lyndonville.
Ofc. Gerrish located Ingalls at the Henderson County Jail in Henderson County, Texas where he was incarcerated.
“He could not remember if he gave Clark permission or not to use the cards after he left for Texas,” wrote Gerrish.
Clark was in court after being arrested by Ofc. Gerrish on Wednesday night at 545 Lafayette St. on an active felony warrant for identity theft and welfare fraud.
If convicted of both charges Clark faces a possible sentence of up to four years in prison and a $5,000 fine.