Clearfield Woman Sentenced to State Prison for Access Device Fraud, Forgery

CLEARFIELD – A Clearfield woman accused of over 100 counts of forgery and other crimes was sentenced to state prison on Monday.

Peggy Sue Erskine was originally charged with  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.

She pleaded guilty to 28 counts of access device fraud and was sentenced to SCI-Muncy for nine months to 7 years on each count, to run concurrent with each count; she is to refrain from the use or possession of alcohol and controlled substances, submit to DNA testing at her own cost, to have no contact with the victims in the case, she is not permitted to be employed as a cargiver for the elderly, and owes restitution in the amounts of $17,632.54, $26, 895.66 and $9,583.57.

She also pleaded guilty to 62 counts of forgery, 39 counts of access device fraud and 10 counts of another section of access device fraud. She was ordered to pay fines and costs on each count and was sentenced to two years probation on each count, to run concurrent with each other and the above sentence.

The Lawrence Township Police Department began investigating the case after they were contacted on Oct.21, 2010. 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 joint 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.

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, 2010. 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.

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