Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Burberry — When Shewaye Yemane went shopping, it was nothing but the best for her. Trouble was, she did it with someone else's credit card.
She got away with it for awhile — scoring nearly $4,000 worth of pricey, tasteful and fashionable merchandise. But the jig was up when she was caught red-handed, shoplifting from the Tysons Corner Neiman Marcus.
Monday morning in Fairfax County Circuit Court, Yemane, of the 12300 block of Field Lark Lane in Fairfax's Pender community, pleaded guilty to three felonies — credit-card theft, credit-card fraud and grand larceny. And when she's sentenced in October, she could receive as much as 15 years in prison.
Before Judge Stanley Klein accepted her pleas, the judge asked Yemane if she was entering them freely and voluntarily and because she was indeed guilty. Yemane answered yes. Then assistant commonwealth's attorney Michael Ben'Ary told the court what the evidence against Yemane would have been, had the case gone to trial.
"She was caught concealing lingerie items in a fitting room at Nieman Marcus," he said. "They stopped her outside the store and found $258 in merchandise on her person."
In a Sept. 9, 2003, affidavit for a warrant to search Yemane's home, Detective B.S. Walley, a retail crimes investigator with the McLean District Station, also provided details of her illegal deeds.
He wrote that, on Aug. 29, 2003, he responded to the Neiman Marcus store at 2001 International Drive in McLean, regarding a shoplifter in custody. He spoke with Tim Holloman, a Neiman Marcus loss-prevention agent, and learned that the shoplifter was Yemane.
"Police searched her vehicle in the parking lot and recovered some Neiman Marcus property," said Ben'Ary. "Then, in a search of her home, police recovered additional items."
BUT SHOPLIFTING was only one of Yemane's crimes, he told the judge. "Investigation revealed that she had made charges on a Neiman Marcus charge card in someone else's name," he said. "She used it 11 times, [making purchases totaling] about $3,900."
However, Yemane initially denied any wrongdoing with the credit card. "After she'd been read her Miranda rights, she stated she took the items from the fitting room," said Ben'Ary. "She said she had permission to use the credit card, but the victim said she didn't know the defendant and had not given her permission."
In his affidavit, Walley noted that Yemane also committed a felony concealment of merchandise on Aug. 23. At that time, he wrote, "[she] was observed stealing a red, Burberry-brand skirt valued at $290. Yemane was not stopped on that date. She later admitted to [me] that she stole the skirt and [it's] at her home."
The detective further learned that, in a one-week period from July 29-Aug. 4, 2003, "Yemane purchased merchandise in excess of $3,000 from Neiman Marcus by using a store credit account in the name of Teruberhan Fentike." After examining Fentike's credit-card statement, he discovered that her card was used to buy clothing, perfume, handbags and jewelry.
He then requested a search warrant to look for these items in Yemane's townhouse. They included a Louis Vuitton purse, change purse, planner and makeup case, as well as La Mer face cream, lotion and makeup.
Police executed the warrant Sept. 10, 2003, seizing a Louis Vuitton purse and handbag, seven La Mer items, a Majorica pearl necklace, Neiman Marcus pearl necklace, Cartier perfume, an overdraft letter and three credit documents.
Police arrested Yemane, Aug. 29, 2003, charging her with nine crimes — three grand larcenies with a credit card, three frauds with a credit card, two grand larcenies and one identity fraud. She was released on Aug. 30, 2003, but was busted again on Sept. 9, 2003, and charged with two more offenses — fraud with a credit card and grand larceny with a credit card.
All but three of these charges were later dropped and, on May 17, 2004, the grand jury indicted Yemane on these offenses. After she pleaded guilty to them in court Monday, Judge Klein set her sentencing for Oct. 15, 2004.