07/23/04 — Woman sentenced for bilking residents

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Woman sentenced for bilking residents

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on July 23, 2004 1:59 PM

A 33-year-old woman who reportedly spurned college basketball scholarship offers and embarked on a life of crime was sentenced to about four year in prison after being convicted of 11 fraud charges.

Louretha Mae King, a former Goldsboro resident who now has a Newton Grove address, was accused of passing a bad check to buy a private citizen's car, forging a disabled man's check for his rent and assuming a woman's identify to buy items at department and jewelry stores.

"These were serious crimes," said Assistant District Attorney Jan Kroboth in her closing argument. "We're all paying for them."

Louretha Mae King


Ms. King also faces more time in court. She was charged in June by Goldsboro police with obtaining property by false pretense. She was accused of swindling an elderly woman out of her life savings after obtaining a fraudulent power of attorney.

Wayne County sheriff's officers and Mount Olive police also are pursuing other similar charges against Ms. King.

The 6-foot-2, 250-pound Ms. King, who grew up in Sampson County, was said to have spurned scholarships to follow in the footsteps of her brother, Chris King, who started for four years at Wake Forest University and played professionally in Italy.

The first victim of Ms King's crime wave, James Hamm, had put a for-sale sign in his 1993 Oldsmobile. Hamm said he thought that Ms. King had the cash. She went to a notary and changed the title to the car.

Later he said the defendant had said she had made a bank deposit that morning and had given him the check for $2,500, when she had only $22.16 in her bank account.

The next victim, Marie Scott, had written a $150 check to pay for a month's rent for her disabled brother. She had left the payee blank, because she did not know the name of the House of Faith.

When Ms. King got the check, she wrote in the name of Paula Summerville, changed the amount to $250 and cashed it at a bank. Ms. King had a driver's license with Paula Summerville's name and her own photo. She had obtained the bogus license with a fake Social Security card.

Ms. King and a co-defendant who had been tried and sentenced then obtained another woman's credit card and use it to set up a line of credit at Lowe's Home Improvement Store. Ms. King bought two air conditioners and bathroom accessories and later returned them for refunds. Then the two women did the same thing at Friedman's Jewelers and bought a bracelet.

Mrs. Kroboth said the victim, Debra Hood, had done everything possible to protect her credit, recording her credit cards numbers and making photo copies of her cards. Still, the prosecutor said, the victim's credit had been damaged.

Ms. King's lawyer, Charles Gurley of Goldsboro, did not put on a defense and tried to sway the jury with a closing argument.

The jury foreman said later that he read each charge and asked if anyone had any questions. Only twice did anyone have one. The jurors' unanimous decision came after only an hour and 19 minutes.

Judge Jack Hooks of Whiteville sentenced Ms. King to 10 to 12 months in prison for obtaining property by false pretense and a felony worthless check. He sentenced her to an additional 10 to 12 months for obtaining property by false pretense and financial identity fraud.

He sentenced her to two more consecutive terms of 10 to 12 months for four more counts of obtaining property by false pretense. He also sentenced her to 10 to 12 months for forgery and use of fake driver's license, but consolidated the term with the last 10- to 12-month sentence.

Mrs. Kroboth was assisted by Michael Ricks, a third-year law school student.

The co-defendant, Laurie Marie Lemaster, 33, of East Mulberry Street, was sentenced April 22 to 12 to 15 months for financial identify fraud and 12 to 16 months for two counts of obtaining property by false pretense.