Monday, August 6, 2012

Court delayed for woman in shelter scam - The Tribune-Democrat

PITTSBURGH â€" A court date has been delayed for a woman charged with staying at a western Pennsylvania shelter for battered women under false pretenses because she's in an Ohio prison for violating parole on charges she scammed a woman and her mother out of money, shelter and a car.

The trial of Amy Slanina, 33, had been scheduled to begin Monday. But it has been pushed back to Sept. 6, when she's scheduled to enter an unspecified plea to one or more of three charges she faces: theft of services, theft by deception and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Slanina's attorney and Pennsylvania prosecutors haven't returned calls for comment, though court records show her case in Kittanning, Armstrong County, about 30 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, was delayed and that Slanina was taken to Ohio to answer to a parole violation in Knox County back in April.

Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction records show Slanina was still incarcerated Monday on a parole violation at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville, where she had been sentenced to 17 months in prison in June 2010. Pennsylvania court records list Slanina's address as the Ohio prison.

Kittanning police charged Slanina for staying at the HAVIN, or Helping All Victims in Need Shelter, from Dec. 4-30, after shelter officials determined Slanina was not married to a Pittsburgh police officer, nor had she been abused by him, as she claimed.

Kittanning police also charged Slanina with conning an Idaho couple into believing she was pregnant with phone calls and emails made using the shelter's computer and cellphone. Armstrong County prosecutors dropped the charges after determining that wasn't a crime, because no money changed hands, even though the couple flew to western Pennsylvania in hopes of adopting Slanina's baby, only to find out it didn't exist and that she had been arrested earlier that day on charges of scamming the shelter.

An investigation by The Associated Press earlier this year determined Slanina has a history of pretending to be pregnant or involved in child custody disputes and scamming unsuspecting couples or, sometimes, female lovers and their families, into believing she is pregnant, in return for food, shelter and attention.

The Ohio parole violation for which Slanina is currently incarcerated stems from her conviction on theft, forgery and credit card charges that victimized a woman she met online in Fredericktown, Ohio, in late 2009, and that woman's elderly mother.

Slanina moved in with the women in January 2010 and persuaded them to lend her money to pay child support so she could avoid going to jail.

Knox County Ohio prosecutors contend Slanina told the women she would pay them back from millions of dollars she had inherited that were frozen in a bank account. The Fredericktown women continued believing Slanina until she borrowed the elderly woman's car to "run some errands" in February 2010 and never returned.

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