PALMER, Mass. (RNS) — A Massachusetts woman charged with larceny and fraud denied June 7 that she stole donated items from a church that were intended for victims of a devastating tornado.
Christine Lajewski, 47, of Ware, Mass., was charged with larceny over $250 under false pretenses and fraud at her arraignment.
Police in Monson, where a June 1 tornado unleashed its lethal fury, said Lajewski told volunteers at First Church of Monson that her home and car were destroyed by the tornado in downtown Monson.
But Lajewski’s court-appointed lawyer, Holly Battige, said Lajewski told her she went to the church to volunteer, and to collect items for a friend’s sister from Monson.
Monson Detective Kristen Marciniec said after Lajewski told her story, the church volunteers immediately loaded her car with $700 to $800 worth of items — baby formula and clothes, a $200 freezer, food, paper products, toys, stuffed animals and a gazebo tent.
“She took several trips, in her own vehicle,” Marciniec said.
Marciniec said Lajewski kept some of the items for herself, while others were given to friends.
A judge released Lajewski on her own recognizance, but said she must stay out of Monson, remain drug-free and refrain from committing any crimes.
Prosecutor Mary Partyka said a friend of Lajewski’s contacted authorities after she was told what Lajewski allegedly did in Monson. Partyka said Lajewski had “bragged” about what she had done, and the friend was “disgusted.”
— Lori Stabile/The Republican, Springfield, Mass.
© 2011 Religion News Service. Used with permission.
Posted June 10, 2011