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A Center Rutland woman pleaded innocent Monday in Rutland criminal court to stealing and using a Pittsford woman’s welfare benefits, a crime technically considered identity theft.
Police said Allyn Cole, 44, stole a purse and electronic benefits transfer card from Pamela Berry’s home on Mechanic Street. Berry’s son, Mason Wardwell, was dating Cole and the two were taking Berry to a hospital, police said.
A witness told police he saw Cole take Berry’s purse wrapped in a bathrobe, but didn’t think it was suspicious at the time because he thought Cole was gathering Berry’s belongings.
Berry told police she called Wardwell to return the purse and belongings. She said Wardwell either ignored the calls, or said he would return the items but never did.
Police questioned Cole, who said she thought Wardwell had left the purse with his mother at the hospital. After police contacted Cole, Wardwell returned the purse to authorities, police said, along with a receipt from the EBT card for $74.14.
Police said Cole was recorded purchasing items with the card by a Price Chopper security camera.
According to police, Cole said Berry had given her permission in the past to use the EBT card and that Wardwell reassured her it was all right.
“(Cole) continued that she doesn’t work and needed food for her family,” the affidavit said.