Women described as career criminals receive stiff sentences

Posted: Thursday, October 18, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Two women described by a federal prosecutor as career criminals received stiff sentences after a judge determined they could not be rehabilitated.

Michele Renee Thompson, 40, was sentenced Monday to 6 1/2 years in prison -- approximately double that recommended under federal sentencing guidelines -- after pleading guilty to bank and credit card fraud.

Thompson, who has 64 aliases, was arrested last October in Newport News, Va., where she paid for a car with $2,400 written on a stolen check, Assistant U.S. Attorney Crandon Randell said Wednesday. She was using the alias Tiffany Campiezo Johnns at the time.

Thompson was returned to Alaska to face charges that she stole from her employer, a lawyer she had met a month earlier. Thompson convinced the lawyer she was a paralegal, even though she was living in a halfway house at the time, Randell said.

When the lawyer took a trip to San Diego, Thompson stole checks and two credit cards and spent $2,638 on the trip to Virginia.

Earlier in 2000, Randell said, Thompson had met a Willow woman who invited her to live in her home soon after she was released from jail. Over the next few months, Thompson took checks and stole approximately $23,000 from the woman and her father, Randell said.

Thompson was arraigned Feb. 22 on four counts of bank fraud and one count of credit card fraud. She pleaded guilty to three counts.

A records check revealed that Thompson has been in prison, on probation or on parole for 21 years, Randell said.

''She's a thief. That's what she's been for many years,'' he said. ''It is pretty clear she has no control over her stealing.''

In the other case, Peggy Sue Thibodeau, 43, of Anchorage was sentenced Monday to five years in prison after pleading guilty to wire fraud. She took out a $136,000 mortgage on her husband's house without his knowledge while he was working on the North Slope, Randell said.

Thibodeau began shopping for the mortgage in February 2000, six months after the couple married. She forged a power of attorney document in her husband's name to get the money. She was arrested May 25.

Randell said Thibodeau was sentenced to five years in 1985 for stealing approximately $30,000 from her employer, J.C. Penney. She violated her probation in that case by embezzling $17,000 from two subsequent employers and was returned to prison in 1991.

In a third case, Sandra Turnbough was sentenced Friday to 1 1/2 years in prison for stealing $74,000 over a three-year period while working as a bookkeeper for a Wasilla nature photographer who has since moved to Spokane, Wash.

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