BY JULIE MANGANIS
---- — SALEM — A woman who was just weeks away from having credit card fraud charges dismissed following a year of probation nearly lost that opportunity after she was charged with passing bad checks at one city store and then shoplifting a dress at another.
But, against the recommendation of a probation officer, a Salem District Court judge agreed to let Janine Wilson’s earlier credit card fraud case be dismissed, then also agreed to her attorney’s requests to continue the two new cases without a finding for six months.
Wilson, 33, of Swampscott, was a dog walker in the fall of 2011 when she was charged with stealing a credit card from the home of a client and using it to purchase clothing, fast food and alcohol. The case was later continued without a finding for a year, meaning that if she paid restitution and stayed out of further trouble, it would be dismissed.
But on Oct. 1, police took a report from the staff at Rouge Cosmetics on Derby Street, where Wilson had received services two weeks earlier, then paid for the service and the tip with two checks that, it turns out, were written on a closed account, prosecutor Lars Trautman told a judge.
On Oct. 9, police took a report from the owner of The Boutique on Front Street, where surveillance cameras caught Wilson stuffing a $95 dress into her purse.
The prosecutor urged Judge Christopher LoConto to impose guilty findings in the new cases, pointing to Wilson’s record and the fact that the crimes occurred while she was on probation. And probation officer Joanne Lam asked LoConto to convert Wilson’s earlier continuation without a finding to a “guilty” finding.
Wilson’s attorney, Richard Callahan, told the judge that the bad checks, which totaled $100, were an accident caused when she grabbed the wrong purse. He offered no explanation for the shoplifting.
Wilson told the judge she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, caused by a 2009 car accident in which she was nearly killed.
“I’m sorry to hear that,” said LoConto, who granted her attorney’s requests to continue the cases without a finding, meaning they also will be dismissed if she stays out of trouble and pays restitution totaling $222.50 and $350 in fees.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.