A police officer cruising the parking lot of an East Ridge motel has led to the arrest of a Trenton, Georgia woman on identity theft charges.
April Lesha Southern/aka Richardson, 38, of a Mountain Shadow Drive address, was recently charged with Theft of Identity, Theft under $1,000 and Criminal Simulation. It is unclear when she is due to appear in court.
According to an affidavit of complaint, an officer spotted a Chevy Avalanche with Georgia tags in the parking lot of the Roadway Inn at about 2:30 a.m. on Sept. 22. Police saw a man known to them from previous arrests associated with drugs and fraudulent identifications. The registration on the Avalanche returned with a “hit” detailing an incident a few weeks ago in Chattanooga where the vehicle ran from police on an attempted traffic stop.
According to the report, police went to the man’s third-floor room and knocked. Just after knocking officers heard screaming from the next room over. Police then knocked on the room next door and after an extended period of time five people emerged. One of those people was April Southern.
The report states that the front desk clerk at the motel notified officers that someone had attempted to break in to the room next door to where Southern was found by jumping onto the balcony and entering through sliding glass doors. A man in that room, the report states, handed over a backpack that he said was left by the person who had jumped onto the balcony.
All five denied ownership of the backpack, the report states. Inside the backpack police found multiple checkbooks. A wallet was found on the ground below the balcony. It contained a check written to April Southern/aka Richardson in the amount of $240. Also found in the wallet was identification of the person whose name appeared on the recovered checkbook. Southern told police that she cleaned houses for a living, but was unable to confirm the name on the check or the address of that person.
The report states that police confirmed the check was stolen from a Soddy-Daisy residence in late August. Another checkbook was found in the backpack that was reported stolen during a burglary in Chattanooga in early August. Police also found an identification for Southern/Richardson in the wallet. Southern then told police that the wallet was hers.
The report states that inside the motel room police found “gel pens” next to a laptop computer that Southern said belonged to her. Police then found a list of a identifying information, routing numbers, bank account numbers, notes about layouts of checks and fraudulent e-mail accounts that had been created in a victim’s name. Multiple other pieces of paper were located containing similar information in the names of different people. The report states that Southern claimed ownership of all the papers and the notebook where the information was found.
The report notes that Southern has previous charges of theft on her criminal record and is on felony probation out of Georgia.