Tahlequah Daily Press

March 7, 2013

Welling woman accused in fraudulent use of credit card

Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Prosecutors have filed charges against a Welling woman accused of using a Cookson Hills Center credit card for personal use.

Ashley Thirsty, 29, is charged with unauthorized use of a credit card. Prosecutors allege she used the credit card between Nov. 3 and Nov. 26 last year.

Cherokee County Sheriff’s Investigator Gary Cacy said Rev. Meredith Whitaker, director of the Cookson Hills Center in Cookson, reported that Thirsty, a former cook at the center, was suspected of using a credit card to purchase items at the Tahlequah Walmart.

The items Thirsty allegedly purchased were for her personal use and were not authorized by Whitaker or anyone at the center.

According to a report filed by Cacy, the three charges to the card totaled more than $530.

Whitaker said she noticed the issues on a monthly Walmart billing statement, where hundreds of dollars in personal clothing items had been purchased.

The credit card had previously been issued to the center’s kitchen and staff to be used only for purchasing food for the daycare and senior nutrition program.

Thirsty met with Cacy in December, and admitted she had the card and knew it was only to be used to purchase food for Cookson Hills Center. She also allegedly confessed to using the card to make personal charges for clothes, food and other items.

She told Cacy her ex-boyfriend came up with the idea of making the purchases, and said he intimidated her into using the credit card. Thirsty said she didn’t benefit from the purchases, and her ex-boyfriend kept all of the items she purchased.

Thirsty told Cacy she is remorseful and made an offer to Whitaker to pay restitution.

Cacy suggested in his report that prosecutors consider a deferred prosecution against Thirsty based on her cooperation in the case.

Unauthorized use of a credit card is punishable by a fine of up to $500 and up to 30 days in prison.