Mifflin County man and woman face felony theft charges in Centre County

A Mifflin County pair are facing numerous felony charges in Centre County, alleging several acts of fraud and identity theft.

Separate cases were filed against Eric E. Earnest, 47, of Milroy, and Haley M. Penepacker, 25, by both the State College and Ferguson Township police related to separate incidents in the respective municipalities. An investigation began March 7 when Ferguson Township police responded to a report of unauthorized usage on an ATM card, according to the affidavit.

The card holder reported a man and woman had been at his residence earlier in the day claiming to provide an estimate for drywall repair, police said. Banking information indicated there were attempts to withdraw cash from the Southridge Plaza Sheetz in College Township and in the Lewistown area.

The amounts withdrawn totaled $1,190, police said.

On March 15, State College police responded to a report of fraud, a second affidavit said, in which a State College resident, who is legally blind, claimed $3,500 had been withdrawn from his account. The man banks in State College, but the money had been withdrawn from a Lewistown branch.

Upon contacting the branch, police said, a representative said they had received a call from a man claiming to be the account holder, who stated he was in a Pittsburgh hospital and was sending a representative to withdraw money from his account. The man was identified as Earnest and picked up $8,192 on Jan. 17.

The man also told officers that it appeared several checks had been stolen and cashed, police said. He reported that Home Helpers, of Hollidaysburg, sends employees to his residence to clean and do his laundry once a week.

In the course of the investigation, officers learned that multiple checks had been cashed with four made out specifically to Earnest totaling more than $10,000, police said. Officers contacted Snedeker Energy in Lewistown, where a $150 check had been cashed, and learned that Penepacker had reportedly presented to have the check cashed.

Officers also later learned Penepacker was a former employee of Home Helpers and had been assigned to assist the State College resident, police said. She was arrested March 21 on a separate theft warrant and placed in Mifflin County Correctional Facility.

When interviewed in jail, police said, Penepacker reportedly stated she had taken the checks from the State College residence and gave them to Earnest, saying he was the one who endorsed the check to Snedeker. She allegedly claimed Earnest used the stolen checks to obtain “thousands of dollars.”

At a later interview, she allegedly told officers that Earnest had come to the residence with her on her last day of work and took several checks, police said, saying every time he cashed a check, he gave some of the money to her.

Earnest was interviewed in jail on April 6, police said, and reportedly confessed that Penepacker had taken the checks but he cashed them. After cashing, he claimed he gave all the money to her and she would give some back to him.

He also allegedly confessed to using a debit card and taking $800 from a State College Sheetz ATM, police said. He later reportedly admitted to using the card at several ATMs in the Lewistown area.

Both were arraigned Monday and charged with several felony counts of theft by unlawful taking, theft by deception, receiving stolen property, identity theft and conspiracy, according to court documents. Each faces two straight $50,000 bails for both theft investigations.


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