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Woman faces fraud charges in three-year spending spree

A 65-year-old Magee woman allegedly used another woman’s SocialSecurity number and other information to ring up approximately$100,000 in merchandise, including the purchase of two vehicles inBrookhaven, authorities said.

A 65-year-old Magee woman allegedly used another woman’s SocialSecurity number and other information to ring up approximately$100,000 in merchandise, including the purchase of two vehicles inBrookhaven, authorities said.

Elsie Barton, of 1305 Francise Ave., Magee, was being held inthe Magee City Jail Thursday following her Dec. 21 arrest inHazlehurst, where she was a teacher at the elementary school, saidDanny Hodges, investigator with the Magee Police Department. She iswanted in Brookhaven in connection with the October and Novemberpurchases of two vehicles at a local dealership.

“We have a hold on her for two counts of false pretense,” saidArlustra “Pap” Henderson of the Brookhaven Police Department.

Hodges said Barton allegedly obtained Social Security, creditcard and other information on a woman identified as Wanda Smith andhad assumed her identity. Smith lives in Brandon, Hendersonsaid.

“There’s no connection between the two that we can find so far,”Hodges said, adding that an investigation is continuing.

Henderson said Barton used Smith’s credit rating to obtainfinancing on a pick up truck on Oct. 11 and again on a Ford Tauruson Nov. 2. Those were the only instances of Barton’s activities inthe city, Henderson said.

“She has no ties to Brookhaven other than buying the vehicleshere,” Henderson said.

Hodges, though, indicated Barton had been active in other areas,using Smith’s credit card information to buy an estimated$75,000-$100,000 in merchandise over a three-year period. Hodgessaid Smith contacted him Dec. 18 regarding some discrepancies inher bill and some cards having been maxed out.

Hazlehurst police arrested Barton Dec. 21 for the Magee PoliceDepartment and the U.S. Postal Service. Hodges said Barton hadtaught at several other schools in the state, but Brookhavenschools were not among them.

Barton was in jail under a $50,000 bond after being charged withtwo counts of forgery. Hodges said other charges are forthcoming,including possible federal charges.

Hodges said postal officials are investigating Barton foralleged mail and wire fraud charges over the use of the creditcards. He said other charges are possible in Ridgeland andHattiesburg.

Authorities are in the process of recovering merchandise boughtwith the credit cards, Hodges said. He said he appreciated thecooperation of the postal service, Brookhaven Police Department andHazlehurst Police Department in the ongoing investigation.

Henderson said he hoped to have the Brookhaven case ready forpresentation to the grand jury during its next term in January.