"Professional Con Artist" held for lack of quarter million dollars bail after her arrest at Chester bank branch
FBI records show 39 aliases over the years for New York woman
CHESTER - After she successfully withdrew “at least $11,700” from two bank branches in northern Vermont last week, a New York City woman was arrested Friday at the TD Bank branch in Chester while she was attempting to take $4,200 out of another woman’s account with the aid of a high-quality forged driver’s license, police said.
Elizabeth Rodriguez, 57, who described herself in court papers as a hairdresser who resides on West 204th in New York City, is now facing the prospect of up to life in prison because Vermont authorities filed a petition charging her as a habitual offender based on her criminal record which they said stretches back 33 years.
“It appears Ms. Rodriguez is essentially a professional con artist with in excess of 30 different aliases,” Windsor County Deputy State’s Attorney Glenn Barnes told Judge Timothy Tomasi after Rodriguez entered innocent pleas to three felony counts of identity theft and false impersonation.
Barnes described Rodriguez as having “a dozen convictions for fraud-related offenses across four states, including a 2009 New Jersey identity fraud conviction for which she served four years in jail,” and he noted that just “three weeks ago she was arrested in Florida for the same exact offenses she’s charged with here.”
Bank tellers across New England were emailed Rodriguez’s picture after loss prevention officers said she was able to extract “at least $11,700 from banks in Shelburne and Richmond, Vermont,” a week-and-a-half ago, Barnes explained to the court.
On Friday, sharp-eyed tellers at the TD Bank branch in Chester recognized Rodriguez as the suspect they had been warned about and stalled her long enough for police to arrive, Chester Police Sgt. William Frank wrote in an affidavit filed with the court.
Sgt. Frank, who just started his job with the Chester Police Department earlier this month, wrote that once he arrived at the bank and asked Rodriguez to step into a private office she allegedly confessed straight away that she was involved in a fraud, saying that the man who had driven her there had probably fled at the first sight of Frank’s police cruiser.
“She made a statement to the effect of: ‘You know how you get hooked up with these guys and they bring you around to these banks and then they pay you to withdraw money from people’s accounts’,” before invoking her right to speak to a lawyer, Frank wrote.
In addition to the Vermont charges, and the felony count of impersonation fraud pending in Delray Beach, Florida following her arrest there at the beginning of this month, Rodriguez’s record contains convictions for forgery, theft by deception, bad checks, presenting false identity to law enforcement, receiving stolen property, operating a car without the owner’s consent, grand larceny of a credit card, and a variety of parole violations, Deputy State’s Attorney Barnes noted; however, he pointed out that there were no convictions over the years for any acts of violence.
Despite that, Barnes argued for holding Rodriguez without bail, saying that “having been convicted a dozen times in the past has clearly done nothing to prevent or discourage Ms. Rodriguez from engaging in this kind of behavior.”
Judge Tomasi did set bail for Rodriguez but he put it at $250,000 cash or surety and he ordered her, if she is eventually able to post it, to reside in Vermont and not to leave the state while her case is pending.
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