Woman gets prison time for stealing, forging checks

A Mountain Home woman who stole checks, forged and passed them at area businesses was sentenced to three years in prison during a session of Baxter County Circuit Court Thursday.

Thirty-year-old Jessica Ruth Whitson pled guilty to five counts of felony forgery, five counts of misdemeanor theft of property and a misdemeanor count of attempted theft of property.

The charges stemmed from the theft of a backpack in late June last year.

According to the probable cause affidavit, the female victim and Whitson spent the night with a friend. When the victim awoke, Whitson was gone and so was the woman’s backpack. Items missing included the victim’s driver’s license, gift cards and a checkbook belonging to an elderly man the victim served as caretaker.

A day after the backpack was reported stolen, a citizen reported driving on a county road when she observed a white four-door car traveling in the opposite direction. She observed some items in the roadway including a checkbook, driver’s license and debit cards. Also found were personal papers with Whitson’s name on them.

The investigation revealed the stolen checks were being forged and passed at businesses in the area. A female also attempted to pass a forged check for $575 at a drive-thru window at a branch bank in Mountain Home, but the check was declined.

Video surveillance footage from the bank showed Whitson driving the car.

Whitson was also ordered to pay restitution of almost $600.

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