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Latham teen charged with swindling elderly women
COLONIEInstead of taking his last final exam in high school on Monday, a Latham teenager was behind bars charged with stealing thousands of dollars from three elderly women. Police say 17-year old Shawn Pettingell spent the stolen cash on jewelry, concerts and a pair of first class plane tickets to Florida. Pettingell is charged with three counts of possessing a forged instrument, two counts of grand larceny, one count of identity theft, three counts of criminal possession of stolen property and one count of petit larceny.
Investigators say Pettingell knew all three of his victims, one was a neighbor, the other a family member and the third is his god mother, "he asked to get a drink of water and while unsupervised he stole some checks from one of the victims," says Lt. Bob Winn of the Colonie Police Department. The other two victims allegedly had personal checks and credit card numbers stolen while Pettingell was present and they were distracted.
Police say Pettingell used the stolen credit card numbers to buy some big ticket items and then filled out the stolen blank checks and had a friend cash them, "she had no idea the checks she was cashing for him were stolen, he had very good explanations, one he said he was for work he had done for a neighbor, another from a relative, so she had no idea she was participating in the crime," Lt. Winn says.
But the female associate did reap some of the benefits, police say Pettingell bought her jewelry and a first class ticket next to him on a plane to Miami, Florida. In a tweet dated May 26th, Pettingell writes "Could easily get used to this #Miamibeach" and attached a picture of the beach.
CBS6 tried to speak with Pettingell's family on Monday but no one answered the door. The 89-year old neighbor he allegedly ripped-off has been staying elsewhere for the last few days and it appears there may be other victims who haven't yet realized they've been taken, "as a result of the investigation we did find purchases that were tracked back to two credit card numbers that do not belong to any of the victims," Winn says.