A New York city woman, who attempted to bilk four Vermont banks, including illegally withdrawing $6,500 from a Shelburne branch, has been indicted by a federal grand jury, court records show.
Elizabeth Rodriguez, 57, is being held for lack of $250,000 on state charges filed in Windsor County. Rodriguez, also known as Elizabeth Ortega, is jailed at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility in South Burlington.
There is no date set for her arraignment in U.S. District Court in Burlington.
Rodriguez took the TD Bank in Shelburne for $6,500 and its branch in Richmond for $5,200, both on Feb. 16, court records show.
Rodriguez also tried to improperly withdraw $4,000 from the TD Bank in Woodstock on Feb. 23, but was blocked, records show. When she went to the TD Bank on South Main Street in Chester later that day, Rodriguez was intercepted by Chester Police due to an alert teller.
Shelburne Police said after the fraudulent withdrawal here, the TD Bank sent notices to its branches, along with pictures of the woman. The tellers were asked to be extra vigilant and one of them in Chester recognized her.
Because of the widespread nature of the bank crime, the U.S. Secret Service Office in Burlington was asked to step in, police said. Investigators say efforts are trying to determine if there were other attempts.
A federal grand jury returned a five-count indictment against Rodriguez last Thursday, March 15. Four of the felony charges deal with the stops she made at the banks in Shelburne, Richmond, Woodstock and Chester. The fifth count claims on Feb. 23 Rodriguez unlawfully possessed and used identification documents for another person while committing the bank fraud in Chester.
Rodriguez had produced what appeared to be a valid driver’s license in the name of another woman, but with the defendant’s photograph, records show. Chester Police Sgt. Will Frank said in court papers that he also found a credit card in the name of the woman Rodriguez was posing as that day. The documents were seized as evidence, Frank noted.
Chester Police said they arrested Rodriguez on charges of identity theft, false personation and false pretenses. Prosecutors said because of her extensive criminal record, they added a charge of Rodriquez being a habitual offender, which carries a possible life sentence.
Sgt. Frank and Officer Todd Mayer, who were working the case, soon learned after the arrest that about two hours before the Chester incident, a similar attempt was made at the TD Bank in Woodstock.
Rodriguez apparently arrived at the Chester bank with a man driving a small blue Toyota, Chester Police said. She theorized the driver probably fled when the police cruiser arrived at the bank, Frank wrote in court papers.
“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 peoples accounts’,” Frank wrote.
Chester Police Chief Richard Cloud said the investigation showed Rodriguez also had been recently arrested in Florida for the same kind of bank fraud charge. He said it was unclear how many states she may have visited on the East Coast.
Cloud said Rodriquez appeared to know the numbers for the victim’s bank account and social security account.
Richmond Police Cpl. William Bullock said he stopped at the correctional center in South Burlington on March 5 to issue Rodriguez a citation ordering her into criminal court in Burlington on March 27 for the Richmond case.
Shelburne Officer Dan Eickenberg said he has prepared court affidavits to charge her with identity theft, false pretenses and false personation. He said the plan is to have the Shelburne paperwork added when the Richmond case goes forward.