Admitted heroin addict Phyllis Mari Wettlaufer fought back tears Thursday afternoon as she was being taken to the Lycoming County Prison following her arraignment on charges of going on a shopping spree with a woman's debit card that she allegedly stole last month from the Lycoming County Courthouse.
The 29-year-old Armstrong Township woman was arrested on charges of allegedly stealing Carrie Stine's debit card while visiting the Domestic Relations caseworker in her third-floor office on May 25, city police Agent Ronald Bachman said in an affidavit.
Bachman said the theft occurred when Stine momentarily stepped out of her office to make a photocopy of something. Wettlaufer is one of Stine's clients.
Once she had the card, Wettlaufer, a mother of two who lives at 190 Chadlee Drive, wasted little time in using it at several establishments, including the Sunoco station on East Mountain Avenue in South Williamsport, where she pumped $41 worth of gasoline into her vehicle.
Wettlaufer went to the Lycoming Mall, where she racked up an additional $718 worth of purchases on Stine's debit card at three stores, Bachman alleged.
A video camera recorded Wettlaufer using Stine's card to purchase three cartons of cigarettes at Smoker's Express in South Williamsport, Bachman said.
Chief County Detective William Weber, who worked on the case with Bachman, spotted Wettlaufer in the 1900 block of Lycoming Creek Road about 12:20 p.m. and took her into custody without incident.
She cried in front of District Judge Allen P. Page III during her brief arraignment on four felony counts of forgery, seven counts of access device fraud and theft. At one point, the judge sternly warned her to stay focused on the proceedings.
She pleaded to be released on signature bail.
"I'm clean. I'm not a flight risk. I go to NA (Narcotics Anonymous) on a daily basis," Wettlaufer told Page.
However, she also admitted that after being "clean" for 18 months, she recently relapsed for three days after "I backed myself into a wall with friends."
Page ordered her to jail after she was unable to post $20,000 bail.