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Woman spared prison time for theft

January 05, 2000|By MARLO BARNHART

Although none of the $19,000 stolen from Home Federal in 1998 has been repayed, a Hagerstown woman was spared a prison sentence Tuesday in Washington County Circuit Court for her part in a theft/scheme.

Washington County Circuit Judge Kennedy Boone sentenced Cathy Lorraine Fogle to three concurrent 10-year sentences for one count each of felony theft, bad check (uttering) and theft/scheme, but suspended the sentence.

"Her past speaks well for her," Boone said of Fogle's previously clean criminal record and his belief she was duped by a brother. "I think she thought she was doing the right thing."

Fogle, 46, of 16544 Fairview Road, was ordered to pay $2,100 restitution by Friday and the balance by July 5.

A scheme involving $19,000 in cash advances from overdrawn credit cards led to her conviction Aug. 19 by a Washington County Circuit jury.

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According to court records, Fogle wrote six cash advances on a Discover credit card and an MBNA credit card during the first week in February 1998 for amounts ranging from $2,500 to $4,850.

In each case, Home Federal Savings Bank was the victim, at branches on Pennsylvania Avenue, Dual Highway and Jefferson Boulevard.

Court records said a woman called the banks in each case, representing herself as an agent of the credit card company and authorized the bank to honor the cash advances, even giving an authorization number.

All of the credit card accounts were overdrawn, court records said.

Investigations were launched by Hagerstown City Police, the Washington County Sheriff's Department and the U.S. Secret Service. Those investigations led to the charges.

Family members and friends testified that Fogle thought she was getting money for her brother and a sick child in Florida.

"I'm afraid for this lady," said defense attorney Oliver Cejka. He said she believed in a blood relative and it got her to this point today.

Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Gina Cirincion was less sympathetic, reminding Boone that Fogle began skipping from bank to bank, then county to county and finally to another state to get more and more money during February 1998.

"It was an elaborate scheme with built-in protection ... a story of a dying infant which fooled tellers but not 12 jurors," Cirincion said.

Now a nurse at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Fogle said she is sorry for the "whole mess."

"I've learned a lot about trust," Fogle said.

Boone said he believes she was duped but said he was disappointed that not one cent had been paid toward restitution.

Rob Smetzer, Home Federal's security officer, told Boone that billions of dollars are lost every year in banks because of crimes like this.

"In this case, people were hurt ... customers, stockholders and the tellers who opened their hearts hearing the stories of dying children," Smetzer said.

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