Felony arrest made in theft ring


BUCKHANNON  — A Buckhannon woman has been arrested in connection with a theft ring in Upshur County.

Johnna D. Courtney, 37, from Buckhannon was arrested for fraudulent schemes and conspiracy.

According to the criminal complaint in the Upshur County Magistrate Clerk’s office Cpl. Victor Pyles of the Buckhannon Detachment of the West Virginia State Police received a complaint on June 19, 2018 by Lowes Inc.

The complaint was filed for loss prevention in regards to an ongoing retail theft ring being conducted at the Buckhannon Lowes location. Pyles was advised the theft ring was allegedly utilizing a technique called “direct sales floor returns.” This technique involves a person or persons gaining merchandise from the sales floor, walking to the front service desk and conducting a no receipt return under the assumption that the merchandise was actually purchased. The money, plus WV sales tax is then returned to the returning party in the form of an in-store gift card.

Johnna D. Courtney, was allegedly directly involved in this ongoing scheme and redeemed the majority of the card at the Buckhannon Lowes. On May 5, 2018 Courtney entered the Buckhannon Lowes and knowingly used a fraudulently obtained gift card to purchase merchandise in the amount of $76.92.  This card was obtained by Sydney Williams who is also a defendant in this case. Williams obtained the card utilizing DSFR. This card was gained on April, 27, 2018 after Williams returned items previously stolen by Carly Arbogast, also a defendant in this case.

On May 7, 2018 Courtney entered the Buckhannon Lowes location, knowingly used three fraudulently obtained gift cards gained by Williams and Arbogast. The total amount of fraudulently obtained money used was $278.90.

On May 15, 2018 Courtney entered the Buckhannon Lowes location, knowingly used three fraudulently obtained gift cards gained by Williams. One of the cards used was obtained by Williams at the Bridgeport Lowes utilizing DSFR. The total amount fraudulently obtained money used was $304.64

On May 31, 2018 Courtney entered the Buckhannon Lowes and returned an area rug stolen by Arbogast on May 26, 2018. A gift card for $188. 68 was obtained by the defendant.

On June 2, 2018 Courtney entered the Buckhannon Lowes and knowingly used fraudulently obtained gift cards obtained by herself on May 31, 2018 for $188.68. Courtney also used a fraudulently obtained gift card which was obtained by Williams after she returned previously stolen merchandise for Arbogast. This card’s value was $153.59

Pyles interviewed Courtney. She denied any knowledge that the cards were fraudulently obtained and advised that she paid half price for the cards she gained from Williams and Arbogast. Williams and Arbogast advised in their interviews that Courtney did in fact know that the cards were obtained via DSFR. A total of $1,002.73 was redeemed by Courtney.

Sydney Williams, 22, from Buckhannon was previously arrested for fraudulent schemes and conspiracy.

Courtney was arraigned Upshur County Magistrate Court where Magistrate Kay Hurst set bail at $10,000. If convicted Courtney faces being confined less than one year and no more than 10 years or in the discretion of the court can be confined in jail up to one year and fined up to $2,500 for fraudulent schemes and being confined in the state penitentiary not less than one year and no more than five years and/or fined not more than $10,000 for conspiracy, a felony.

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