September 12, 2006
Reported by Rhonda Kitchens
"The reason you're here today," says Sheriff Tony Mancuso, "is to talk about a particular subject in our community that has basically has been plaguing us with fraud."
The subject the sheriff is referring to is 27-year-old Jennifer Stewart. She's accused of using a laptop and printer to create payroll and personal checks, then pass them off to local merchants.
Sal Messina with Louisiana State Police adds, "She also uses a scanner to create Louisiana and Texas drivers licenses to match the information on the counterfeit checks."
"The incidents began in the early part of July in Vinton and have just ballooned from that time," says Vinton Police Chief, Ricky Fox.
Stewart currently has outstanding warrants for identity theft, access device fraud, forgery, monetary instrument abuse, and a probation violation.
"We don't have a lot of room in the jail for females," says Mancuso, "but basically, I'm telling you right now, we have reservations for this lady."
And, Messina says several law enforcement agencies are working to put her there. "Vinton Police Department, State Police Gaming Enforcement Office, the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office, and Orange Police Department, and also the U.S. Secret Service, all have cases against Stewart."
Detectives believe Stewart is staying somewhere between Lake Charles and Lafayette. She was last seen driving a 1999 Black Mercury Mystique, but they say her license plate and the name she uses continue to change.
Fox says, "She has used Jennifer Hobbs, Rachel Church, Roxanne Clark, Kristen Matte, Leah Thibodeaux, Natalie Landry, Jessica Bell, Jacqueline Serkowski, and Dacia Koonce."