Stop Thief! ID theft suspect CAUGHT...then RELEASED - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Andy Wise

Stop Thief! ID theft suspect CAUGHT...then RELEASED

It took three weeks to catch her -- and one county bureaucrat to let her go.

Deputies with the Shelby County sheriff's fugitive squad arrested 30-year-old Lashaun Daughtery, aka Lashaun Rochelle Chism, last known address 3891 Barron in Memphis. 

The Shelby County Sheriff's ALERT Unit (Area Law Enforcement & Retailers Team) had a warrant for her arrest on identity theft and criminal personation after the Action News 5 Scam Cam showed her buying a refrigerator with a stolen debit card account three weeks ago.

But Jennifer Donnals, spokesperson for the Shelby County District Attorney General's Office, says Shelby County Judicial Commissioner Rhonda Harris released Daughtery/Chism on a $10,000 bond, despite a previous theft conviction and 19 jail bookings for theft and other crimes since 1996.

"It's a hurt feeling because she still has my everything out there," says Margie Neal of Frayser.

Detectives say Daughtery/Chism stole Neal's income tax information.  ALERT Det. Chuck Tarwater says investigators still aren't sure how she obtained Neal's tax identification.

Tarwater says Daughtery/Chism used Neal's identity to open a debit card account.  The Action News 5 Scam Cam captured Daughtery/Chism purchasing a $2,125.99 refrigerator at a Wolfchase Galleria department store.  Tarwater says she later tried to renege on the purchase in an attempt to secure a cash refund, but store employees declined the refund.

Tarwater says Daughtery/Chism also filed an income tax return in Neal's name and had the IRS direct-deposit a $4,390.05 tax refund in the debit account.  He says Daughtery/Chism promptly depleted that balance at as many as three Mid-South stores and at least three ATM's.

"I have lost sleep over this," says Margie Neal.  "When I'm riding down the street, I'm thinking of people following me and everything. She's got my everything."

IRS spokesperson Dan Boone says the agency cannot comment on pending investigations.

Harris refused to come to the phone when the Action News 5 Investigators called her.  She had another employee refer us to Shelby County General Sessions Criminal Judge Gwen Rooks, the administrative judge who supervises judicial commissioners.

In a phone interview, Rooks said judicial ethics prohibits both Harris and her from discussing a defendant's bond in a pending case.  

Daughtery/Chism is scheduled to report for a court hearing March 25.

Got any tips on other theft suspects?  Click here:

http://www.shelby-sheriff.org/divisions/alertsquad.asp

That's ALERT's web site.  At the bottom of the home page, you'll find a link where you can e-mail anonymous tips to ALERT's detectives.

You can also call ALERT's hotline at 901-756-LOSS or e-mail Action News 5's Chief Consumer Investigator Andy Wise at awise@wmctv.com.

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