Hearing for bank bandits caught in Summit delayed as evidence rolls in | SummitDaily.com

Hearing for bank bandits caught in Summit delayed as evidence rolls in

Randy Wyrick
rwyrick@vaildaily.com

EAGLE — An alleged credit card fraud spree was so widespread it could take another month for the rest of the evidence to roll in.

Cynthia Johnson and Vanessa Ravare are charged with running up and down Interstate 70, and using forged Capital One credit cards and fake drives licenses to illegally take tens of thousands of dollars of cash advances. The alleged crime spree encompassed Summit, Eagle, Garfield and Mesa counties.

Among other things, they're waiting to see what other information rolls in, as well as Johnson's previous criminal activity in California. She's on felony probation in California, said Heidi McCollum, assistant district attorney who's handling the case.

California's probation officials say she missed a meeting and issued an arrest warrant for her. It turns out she missed the meeting because she is in the Eagle County jail.

“With a 96-year maximum hanging over her head, if Ms. Johnson makes this bond, the court will never see her again.”Heidi McCollum, Assistant District Attorney

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The bond was in Santa Clara County. She was released from Folsom Prison after serving a stint for similar charges, McCollum said.

There also may be an arrest warrant from Lincoln County, California.

What prosecutors say they did

The suspects allegedly used the same scheme between banks, attempting to get cash advances on forged Capital One credit cards and using false identification. When the card was denied, they reportedly told the teller that the credit card company was not aware of their travel plans and told bank employees to call the number on the back of the card. For that call another accomplice would pose as a Capital One customer service representative.

Johnson's preliminary hearing was postponed Tuesday at the request of defense attorney Thea Reiff, chief public defender for the 5th Judicial District.

Alpine Bank officials told investigator they lost $37,000. Customers did not lose one dime of that, said Mike Brown with Alpine Bank.

Johnson does not have it or have access to it, but several others do, some of whom are known to prosecutors, McCollum said.

This was a larger enterprise with the money going somewhere else, Reiff said.

Reiff said Johnson was headed to Denver for a housework job when she was caught up in this alleged crime spree.

No bond reduction

Reiff asked District Court Judge Paul Dunkelman to reduce Johnson's $100,000 bond.

"The nature of these crimes indicates sophistication in identity theft," McCollum said. "With a 96-year maximum hanging over her head, if Ms. Johnson makes this bond, the court will never see her again."

Johnson's preliminary was postponed to 9 a.m. Jan. 6, and will probably take more than a day. Agencies from all over the state are involved, and will be requested to testify.

"With the additional information coming, this will easily be a two-day proceeding," McCollum said.

Among other issues, Johnson is being referred to as Jacquelyn Murray, who is one of her victims, McCollum said.

"Each time Johnson is referred to as Jacquelyn Murray, it re-victimizes Ms. Murray. I'd like the court to ask her what her name is," McCollum said.

Ravare made her first appearance Tuesday in Dunkelman's courtroom.

Ravare's Summit County charges were consolidated into the Eagle County case. She's being held on $50,000 bond.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.