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Woman indicted on church credit card charges

September 10th, 2011 8:06 am by Becky Campbell

A woman accused of using a church’s credit card for more than $80,000 in personal purchases was indicted by a Washington County grand jury this week.

The panel returned the document charging Jessica Tramel, aka Jessica Trotter-Lawson, 33, of Bristol, with theft of at least $60,000, fraudulent use of a credit card of at least $60,000 and seven counts of identity theft.

Tramel worked at Unaka Avenue Baptist Church when the card was allegedly used illegally between Jan. 1, 2009, and May 1, 2011. She came to possess the card after the former church treasurer, Russell Stover, gave it to her. She was supposed to have his name removed from the account and destroy the card.

Instead, according to court documents, Tramel is accused of using the card to make numerous purchases over the Internet from companies such as Amazon, Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy.

The card was also used locally to purchase manicures and spa services.

In total, police reported $81,055 in unauthorized charges to the card.

In other action, the grand jury returned indictments in these cases:

• Andy Jackson Heaton, aka “Rooster,” 42, Johnson City, on two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping.

The charges stem from a Dec. 30, 2010, incident during which two girls said a man — later identified as Heaton — grabbed them, covered their mouths and tried to carry them away at Tyler Apartments.

The girls, ages 8 and 10, said they were at the playground when a white male grabbed them and dragged them about five feet before they were able to break free and run away.

The girls gave police a detailed description of Heaton and they picked him out of a photo line-up as the man who grabbed them.

• A 47-count indictment against Robert George Danielson, 22, and Donald Ray Hurst, 21, both of Sumter, S.C., and Gareth Dustin Watts, 21, formerly of Sumter but living in Johnson City when the three allegedly went on a burglary spree.

The men allegedly targeted 26 victims all across Johnson City, including Johnson City Police Chief John Lowry, whose home was broken into May 21.

The charges against the men include aggravated burglary, auto burglary, theft over $1000, theft over $500, theft under $500 and attempted theft under $500.

Danielson faces a total of 41 counts, Hurst has 12 counts and Watts has 46 counts of a mixture of those charges.

• Andrew Lee Fleshman, 37, of Telford, on two counts of aggravated assault. The charges stem from an April 9 incident after a man reported he was stabbed in the back while he was mowing a lawn on Hamilton Street.

The victim, Charles Heimiller, told police the man he only knew as “Andy” came up behind him, took Heimiller’s pliers out of his back pocket and stabbed him three times in the back.

A couple weeks later, Heimiller told police that “Andy” had confronted him again, slashed at him with a knife and said he was going to cut him.

• Christopher Mark Benenati, 25, and Steven Thomas Kotsonis, 22, both of Chuckey, on charges of aggravated assault and three counts of aggravated robbery.

The charges stem from two separate alleged robberies in April — one at Video Plaza on South Roan Street and the second at a residence on Mountcastle Road.

• John Joseph Jiran, 30, of Johnson City, on a charge of aggravated robbery.

According to court documents, Jiran and another man, Dylan Wilson, who was indicted in May from the same incident, disguised themselves with black spray paint on their faces before going into Roadrunner at 2607 S. Roan St. with a knife March 22 and demanding money. They also took four packs of cigarettes, police said.

The men were found a short time and distance away, still carrying the store’s bank bag and cigarettes.

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