“Even if she has money in her pocket, she’ll probably walk out stealing something,” prosecutor Matt Fredback said during a change-of-plea and sentencing hearing on May 7 for Elizabeth Anne Williams, who pleaded guilty to three felonies connected to stealing more than $9,000 via credit card charges from two victims.
Williams, 38, of Shoshone, was sentenced to 16 years in prison with the possibility of parole after six years for the two felonies of fraud-possession of a financial transaction card or number, and the single felony of grand theft by unauthorized control or transfer of property with the intent of depriving the owner. According to Fredback, some of the evidence found in the case included a notebook in which Williams had collected several credit cards, credit card numbers, including the cards’ security codes and expiration dates, and social security numbers of several people along with their addresses.
During the hearing, Williams admitted that she had used the cards without getting permission of the owners. According to the prosecutor, two of the credit cards used that led to the charges belonged to the parents of a man Williams was dating at the time, which was why she had access to them. Another credit card was stolen from one of Williams’ employers.
“In all honesty, I should have asked and made sure it was OK,” Williams told the judge.
For the first charge of fraud, Williams took an Alford plea, a plea agreement that stipulates that the defendant does not agree with all the facts alleged but believes there would be sufficient evidence for a conviction in a jury trial.
“I feel that there’s probably enough evidence to convict me at trial,” Williams said.
Williams has a long history of theft charges and convictions, including a misdemeanor charge of petit theft filed while Williams was out on bond in this case. According to Fredback, she was caught stealing fried chicken from a WinCo in Pocatello in December, after she had been released on a $7,500 bond in November for the felony case. Since February, Williams has been in the county jail on an increased bond of $200,000. Previously, she had failed a retained jurisdiction program and served time in prison, Fredback said during the sentencing hearing.
In total, Williams used the credit cards for more than $9,000 worth of purchases, including paying medical bills and buying groceries and gas throughout eastern Idaho. Video surveillance footage showed Williams in several businesses throughout Blaine County making transactions with the cards. Receipts of the transactions matched transactions on the credit card summaries. Fredback said the entire incident sent the owners of the cards into a “complete tailspin,” as they were both small-business owners in Blaine County.
Judge Jonathan Brody said Tuesday that the “substantial sentence was warranted to protect the community.”
“It’s looking like you’re a professional criminal,” Brody said.
In addition to the prison sentence, Williams will be responsible for paying more than $9,000 in restitution to the victims for the illegal card use. The exact amount was still being determined at the time of sentencing, and the judge gave the prosecution 30 days amount to submit that.