September 13, 2006
Reported by: KPLC Staff
"We don't have a lot of room in the jail for females but basically I'm telling you right now we have reservations for this lady," said Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso.
Mancuso was referring to 27-year-old Jennifer Stewart, who is accused of masterminding a fraudulent payroll and personal check scam -- taking local merchants for more than $10,000 since July.
Several agencies had cases against Stewart, including the Vinton Police Department, State Police Gaming Enforcement Office, the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office, Orange, Texas Police Department and the U.S. Secret Service.
Vinton Police Chief Ricky Fox says it was an overnight tip that led them to the Lake Charles Inn on the Bayou. "At about 1:15 this morning I received a telephone call at my residence with the possibility that Miss Stewart was at a location here in Lake Charles," said Fox.
Fox immediately called State Police to issue the arrest and search warrants. But before they made the bust: "We contacted the desk clerk from the evening shift, provided some photographs," said Fox. "He identified her as renting the room earlier that evening -- Room #220."
Once inside investigators took Stewart into custody for questioning while investigators searched Stewart's room and car, where they found tons of evidence used in the alleged scam.
According to State Police several Louisiana and other state issued driver's licenses along with several identification cards. Ms. Stewart had also altered some of the identification cards by placing her photo on them. She had over a 100 printed checks with other people's account and personal information on them.
Two laptop computers, a printer, and a printer/scanner were recovered. Disks with unknown information on them and several account and routing numbers were found on different pieces of paper. A scale and a small amount of a white powder substance believed to be methamphetamines were located in the hotel room.
Just minutes before her arrest, Stewart apologized to our cameras. "I never meant to hurt anybody. I thought that this was insured by Telecheck. I know that's not any less bad. But I am sorry. That's all I have to say," said Stewart.
She's now charged with identity theft, access device fraud, forgery, monetary instrument abuse and, probation violation and possession of CDS II (Meth). Facing time behind bars, she uses what could be her last moments of freedom to send a message home. "Give my babies a kiss," said Stewart.