CLEARFIELD – A Clearfield woman accused of over 100 counts of forgery and other crimes waived her right to a preliminary hearing on Wednesday. The total monetary amount involved in the case is close to $57,000.
According to court records, Peggy Sue Erskine faces a total of 718 counts; 62 counts of forgery, 62 counts of another section of forgery, 77 counts of access device issued to another who did not authorize use, 77 counts of other reason access device is unauthorized by issuer, three counts of criminal attempt to commit other reason access device is unauthorized by issuer, three counts of criminal attempt to commit access device issued to another who did not authorize use, two counts of identity theft, 144 counts of theft by unlawful taking, 144 counts of theft by deception and 144 counts of receiving stolen property.
On Wednesday, attorney Ron Collins argued for a bail reduction. Erskine’s bail was set at $50,000. Collins argued that she had ties to the area and that she was not a flight risk. The commonwealth opposed a bail reduction, stating that they believed her to be a flight risk.
Magisterial District Judge Richard Ireland lowered bail to $25,000 straight, meaning the Erskine is still incarcerated in the Clearfield County Jail. He said if she could post bail, he would place a stipulation in her bail conditions that she could not leave the state. He also added that she would not be permitted to work with the elderly or in a position of trust.
The Lawrence Township Police Department began investigating the case after they were contacted on Oct.21. One of the alleged victims in the case reported that she believed herself and her mother were victims of fraud. The woman told police that her mother had recently passed away. She was reviewing a join account she had with her mother through First Commonwealth Bank when she noticed several transactions that occurred while her mother was in the hospital, as well as on the date of her death and after she had passed away. The woman told police she would have been the only person authorized to utilize the account and that she did not make the purchases.
She also told police that there were several checks passed through the account that she believed were forged. She noted misspellings in the signature. A total of seven checks were accounted for through First Commonwealth Bank totaling $3,226.
The woman then went through her parents’ other accounts and began to question them as well. Two accounts were through Clearfield Bank & Trust. In the first CB&T account, 11 suspicious checks were accounted for totaling $7,615. In the second CB&T account, 24 suspicious checks were accounted for totaling $10,017.54.
A fourth account through Northwest Savings Bank was also looked at. A total of 20 suspicious checks were accounted for totaling $30,440.11.
Erskine also allegedly used the mother’s ATM card on 40 occassions for cash withdrawals totaling $19,561.75. Three of the transactions were denied by the bank. These transactions occurred when the mother was going between Mt. Laurel Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and Clearfield Hospital and began in August and ended in October.
The affidavit also notes the woman’s ATM card was used to make purchases in 37 transactions, which occurred while the mother was in Mt. Laurel. The purchases totaled $6,983.91.
The total amount involved in the case is $56,985.77.
Police went back and viewed video footage when it was available. According to the affidavit Erskine was seen in the video footage on the dates in question.
Police interviewed Erskine on Oct. 31. She was read her Mirand warnings and signed off on them. She reportedly admitted to writing and signing the checks, however, stated that she had permission from the account owners. Officer Julie Wehler obtained written statements from the husband that he at no time gave authorization to any person, other than his daughter, who had power of attorney to sign his name on personal checks.
The affidavit also states that Erskine said she was like a daughter to the alleged victims, and that they would give her gifts because they knew she was having financial difficulties. Again, Wehler obtained a written statement in which the father said he at no time gave Erskine a gift in any amount nor authorized her to get a gift for herself.
The affidavit states that Erskine told Wehler that she had repaid the alleged victims at least a quarter of the money she “borrowed.” The father reportedly told Wehler that Erskine had never given him any money and he was unaware of any loans made to her. Erskine also admitted to having access to all of the victims’ financial information.