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Returns scam nets probation

– A 21-year-old Auburn woman was sentenced Friday to four years on probation and ordered to pay $31,971 in restitution for a scheme that defrauded area home improvement stores.

Brittaney N. Smith pleaded guilty this year to corrupt business influence in Allen Superior Court. In exchange for her guilty plea, an additional charge of theft was dismissed.

Along with 37-year-old Mateo G. Queme, the pair made fraudulent purchases at Menards stores in Fort Wayne, Muncie and other locations.

The pair would claim to be affiliated with contractors in Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan.

They would then return the merchandise for in-store credit vouchers, using those vouchers to then make additional purchases they would use or sell.

In June, Queme was sentenced to two years in prison and also ordered to pay $31,971 in restitution.

$75,000 restitution in plea agreement

Defrauding an 81-year-old man out of tens of thousands of dollars could put Bennett Kline in prison for up to six years.

The 22-year-old Fort Wayne man admitted Friday to a single charge of corrupt business influence. Kline, along with William Scott and Benjamin Freygang, both 21, told the older man they were investing the money in coins, gold and a carpet cleaning business.

Originally charged with felony theft, Freygang pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor theft charge in July and was sentenced to a year on probation. Scott pleaded guilty to felony theft, was ordered to pay $38,600 in restitution and given a term of three years on probation as part of a suspended prison sentence in August.

As part of his plea agreement, Kline must pay $75,000 in restitution to the 81-year-old man. He will be sentenced in November.

Resident, 20, admits attacking woman

Marlin Edwards admitted Friday in Allen Superior Court to attacking a woman and trying to force her to perform a sex act on him.

Arrested in May, Edwards, 20, of the 4800 block of Oliver Street, was originally charged with attempted robbery, attempted criminal deviate conduct and criminal confinement.

According to court documents, he ran up to a woman at Lillie Street and East Fairfax Avenue. He put a knife to her throat, then placed it to her side.

Edwards failed in an attempt to steal her purse, but then forced her behind a house and ordered her to perform a sex act on him. She screamed, drawing the attention of the homeowner, according to court documents.

Edwards fled and was caught by police nearby, according to court documents.

As part of his guilty plea to a charge of attempted criminal deviate conduct, Edwards would be sentenced to 10 years in prison and five years on probation, in addition to an additional 10-year suspended prison sentence.

The additional charges will be dismissed, according to court documents.

He will be sentenced in November.