AVONMORE, Pa. - A local mayor is in trouble with the law after police said she found a wallet while shopping, took money out of it and later dumped the wallet in a mailbox.
Avonmore Mayor Barbara Ann DeSimone-Novosel faces theft charges in connection with an incident on June 19 at a Dollar General in Bell Township, Westmoreland County.
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According to court documents, a woman named Hannah Crusan was shopping and left a wallet containing $50 in a shopping cart after she was finished. That’s when DeSimone-Novosel, 72, allegedly entered the store, saw the wallet and placed her own purse on top of it to conceal it.
“Video surveillance shows the defendant place her purse on top of the victim’s wallet and look around the checkout area suspiciously, apparently in an attempt to ascertain if anyone had noticed her hide the wallet,” the criminal complaint stated.
DeSimone-Novosel continued shopping and then paid for her items before returning the shopping cart, which no longer contained the victim’s wallet.
Four days later, the victim was contacted by an employee at the Avonmore Post Office and was told her wallet was found inside a mailbox outside the post office. When she went to retrieve the wallet, it no longer had the $50 inside, according to the criminal complaint.
Police contacted DeSimone-Novosel on July 21, and the mayor said she never found a wallet at the store. Once police told her surveillance video captured the incident, she acknowledged finding the wallet but didn’t admit to taking money from it.
She later admitted to taking the wallet and putting it in the mailbox, but still refused to admit she took anything from it. However, after further questioning, she admitted to taking the money and placing the wallet in the mailbox.
When confronted at her home Thursday evening, DeSimone-Novosel denied the allegations against her.
She is awaiting a preliminary hearing on charges of theft by unlawful taking, theft of lost property and receiving stolen property.