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No contest plea made in HB theft case

By Lisa Neff, Islander Reporter

A woman accused of ripping off a Holmes Beach couple away from home on a European vacation pleaded no contest Dec. 15 to charges that she stole the couple’s car and possession.

Catherine Theresa O’Malley, 49, was arrested earlier this year on charges of grand theft, a second-degree felony, and grand theft of a vehicle, a third-degree felony, in Manatee County.

In a courtroom at the Manatee County Judicial Center last week, she pleaded no contest to the charges and was judged guilty.

O’Malley’s sentence, handed down by Circuit Court Judge Scott Brownell, was 194 days in the Manatee County jail and three years probation.

O’Malley was first taken into custody in Sarasota, where, in an unrelated case, she was accused of fraud, presenting a false ID to a law enforcement officer and possession of narcotics/narcotics equipment.

In the Manatee County case, O’Malley, who provided addresses in Holmes Beach and Sarasota for her residency, was an early suspect. She had been hired by Barbara and David Hines to watch their Holmes Beach home while they were away.

Instead of acting as caretaker, O’Malley allegedly stole the couples’ car, jewelry and other possessions, as well as cashed forged checks.

A probable cause affidavit filed at the courthouse stated that O’Malley “knowingly obtained the property of another with the intent to temporarily or permanently deprive the owner of their right to the property.”

The document also said, “The victim’s bank fraud department has images showing the defendant cashing and attempting to cash the stolen checks throughout the area. The total amount for the items that were stolen is $23,213.”

O’Malley pleaded not guilty in July and a trial date was set for February 2012.

If she had gone to trial and was convicted, she could have faced 10 years in prison.

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