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John Thompson

Elizabethton Bureau Chief
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Bath salts addiction behind fraud charges, couple say in court

April 4th, 2012 10:18 pm by John Thompson

Bath salts addiction behind fraud charges, couple say in court

ELIZABETHTON — A son and his girlfriend were convicted Wednesday in Sessions Court of the fraudulent use of his mother’s debit card on five occasions on Jan. 30 and Jan. 31.
Carter County investigators said the son committed the crimes because of an addiction to bath salts.
Jason Burnette Berry, 32, and Brandy Michelle Dugger, 26, both of 141 Samps Hollow Road, each pleaded guilty to five counts of fraudulent use of a debit card. They were sentenced to a year’s probation with Crossroads and fined $25 and court costs on each of the counts. They were also ordered to make restitution of $605.
Dugger also pleaded guilty on charges stemming from contraband found in property brought to her while she was in jail over the weekend. She was convicted of possession of schedule III and schedule IV drugs. A charge of introduction of contraband into a penal facility was dismissed under a plea agreement.
She was sentenced to a year’s probation with Crossroads, fined $850 and court costs on the possession of schedule III drugs charge and fined $350 and court costs on the possession of schedule IV drugs charge. She was also ordered to undergo alcohol and drug counseling.
The investigation began Jan. 31, when Connie Grindstaff reported to the Carter County Sheriff’s Department the theft and fraudulent us of her Carter County Bank debit card. Grindstaff said her card had been used at several local automatic teller machines on Jan. 30 and Jan. 31.
Sgt. Todd Hamm said Grindstaff suspected her son and his girlfriend, who lived with her at her Samps Hollow residence. Grindstaff said Dugger shopped with her several times and could have memorized her personal identification number.
Hamm said Berry and Dugger were shown in video footage from security cameras in several stores.
He said the card was first used at Volunteer Market, 1142 Tenn. Highway 91, at 5:50 p.m. on Jan. 30 to withdraw $201.50. It was used at 7:08 p.m. that day at the Sunoco convenience store at 525 Tenn. Highway 91 to withdraw $202. The card was then used again at Volunteer Market on the morning of Jan. 31, where $201.50 was withdrawn.
Hamm said the card was later used on Jan. 31 at the Hampton Bait Shop, 126 First Ave. to make several withdrawal attempts. All attempts were unsuccessful. He said the couple then used the card several times at the neighboring Quick Stop convenience store. All of those attempts also were unsuccessful.
Hamm said Berry was brought in for questioning on Feb. 29 and confessed to using the card. Hamm said he did it because of an addiction to bath salts.
Dugger was arrested on March 30. Berry was arrested on Tuesday.
After Dugger was placed in the Carter County Jail, Corrections Officer Erik Potter reported finding two packages of tobacco, four Subutex pills and two Klonopin pills in the soles of shoes that had been brought in for her. The drug possession and contraband charges were then placed against her.

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