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Sun., Oct. 4
Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York
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Massena soccer mom fined for bogus bottle drive for youth program


MASSENA - A Massena woman going door to door fraudulently seeking bottles for what she claimed was a fundraiser for Massena’s youth soccer organization has been fined and placed under a one-year conditional discharge.

Her scheme, which included having a 12-year-old child wearing a soccer jersey actually knocking on the doors, ran into troubles when she knocked on the door of the president of Massena’s AYSO program.

Village police had charged Rhonda A. Owens, 34, of 57 George St., Apt. A, with criminal impersonation and endangering the welfare of a child.

She pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted criminal impersonation in a plea bargain agreement with the St. Lawrence County District Attorney’s Office.

Massena Village Justice Eric J. Gustafson fined Owens $100 and a $205 surcharge and placed her under a one-year conditional discharge.

Police said after the child knocked on the door Owens would do the talking, suggesting they were collecting bottles for Massena’s youth soccer program during incidents that reportedly took place in September.

Police said the value of the bottles and cans Owens raised was believed to be in the $15 to $20 range. A number of her stops were at residences on Victory Road and Perkins Road, according to court documents.

Owens had been placed on probation for three years in May 2008 after having a felony second-degree burglary count amended to a second-degree criminal trespass count. She had also pleaded guilty to two petit larceny counts.

Owens also admitted she had stolen a credit card Sept. 26, 2007 from the Sharonlyn Lavalley residence at 150 Maple St.

The Massena woman had been charged with entering a friend’s home to deliver some cupcakes and leaving with her cupcakes as well as her friend’s debit card.

Owens was charged with entering Ms. Lavalley’s residence, removing a debit card from Ms. Lavalley’s purse and then using that card to remove $500 from the Ms. Lavalley’s bank account.

Owens indicated she had previously gone to the credit union several weeks earlier with Ms. Lavalley and had memorized her personal identification number.

She said she noticed Ms. Lavalley’s purse on a table when she was inside the residence. She said she then returned to her own residence, changed, went to the ATM and made a $500 transaction. She said she attempted to make two other transactions with the card, but was denied.

In other recent court action before Judge Gustafson:

■ Misty M. Gauthier, 22, of 190 Center St., Apt. 4, Massena, pleaded guilty to fifth-degree attempted criminal possession of stolen property. The court directed the probation department to conduct a pre-sentence investigation and scheduled sentencing for Aug. 14.

Village police had charged Gauthierwith fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property.

She was reportedly in possession of a Samsung DigImax digital camera on Oct. 29, 2009 that had been reported stolen by Crystal Fields. She had reportedly been at Ms. Fields’ residence earlier that day, according to court papers.

Ms. Fields told police two cameras and a movie had been stolen from her residence. She indicated she had recovered the cameras through her own investigation.

■ Robert F. Lavalley, 23, of 124 Andrews St., Apt. 2, Massena, pleaded guilty to attempted petit larceny. The court directed the probation department to conduct a pre-sentence investigation and scheduled sentencing for July 24.

Mr. Lavalley; his mother, Marilyn J. Lavalley, 52, of 18 Perkins Road, Massena; and his girlfriend, Amber Gardner, 19, also of 124 Andrews St., Apt. 2, Massena; were each charged with petit larceny at 2:29 p.m. April 29 following an incident at Rite Aid. Mr. Lavalley and Gardner were additionally charged with endangering the welfare of a child.

Mrs. Lavalley reportedly shoplifted $42.25 worth of makeup from the store, while Mr. Lavalley and Ms. Gardner shoplifted DVDs and a four bags of Combos from Rite Aid. That merchandise was valued at $30.43. Mr. Lavalley and Gardner reportedly had their infant daughter with them during the shoplifting incident.

■ Rachel A. Panella, 32, of County Route 38, Norfolk, pleaded guilty to attempted petit larceny. The court directed the probation department to conduct a pre-sentence investigation and scheduled sentencing for Aug. 14.

Panella had been charged with three Adderal pills prescribed to her cousin, Christopher Marasco, when she went to his family’s residence seeking to borrow $5 and toilet paper.

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