SENECA – A Seneca woman charged with felony stealing is scheduled to appear in Newton County court on Tuesday, Feb. 19, for a pre-trial conference.
Crystal R. Chew, 34, is accused of stealing $2,658.76 from the City of Seneca by using Seneca Fire Department gas cards to buy fuel for her personal vehicles, according to a probable cause affidavit written by Seneca Police Chief James Altic.
"A query was conducted on the gas cards that belonged to the Fire Department," Altic wrote. "It was apparent that someone was making unauthorized purchases of fuel on two of the cards."
Altic said Chew's husband, Kevin, had been a volunteer fireman at the time, though he is no longer with the department.
According to the affidavit, Seneca police obtained a surveillance photograph of Chews' vehicle at the gas pump at Gas-n-Snack convenience store in Seneca.
Altic then called Chew in to be interviewed, at which time she allegedly confessed to the stealing.
"Crystal Chew stated that she had been using two different City of Seneca Fire Department gas cards to purchase fuel for her personal vehicle for at least the past 8 months," Altic wrote.
According to Missouri CaseNet, a warrant was issued for Chew's arrest on Dec. 28, 2012, with a $5,000 bond.
Arraignment was held Tuesday, Jan. 29, in Newton County court with Associate Circuit Court Judge Gregory Stremel and a pre-trial conference is set for 9 a.m. Feb. 19, according to CaseNet.
This is not Chew's first stealing offense.
In 2008, Chew was accused of stealing more than $12,000 from her former employer, the Seneca Special Road District, including more than $8,000 worth of personal purchases made with the district's credit card, according to the probable cause affidavit from that case.
In August 2009, she was sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay back $6,500.
Chew is still on probation from the 2009 offense, and noted that in her interview with Altic.
"Crystal Chew, after Miranda, took total responsibility for her actions and explained that she had a problem with stealing and that she 'needed help,'" Altic wrote. "Chew stated that she would get gas cards from the fire trucks and use them and then return them at a later time."
According to Altic's report, Chew allegedly said that she used the fire department gas cards to offset the expense of driving to and from Joplin for work.