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'Heroin fiend' charged in $9,000 of stolen jewelry

April 25, 2013

A 23-year-old, self-professed "heroin fiend" was charged with allegedly stealing more than $9,000 worth of jewelry from a Waukesha woman who was allowing the homeless woman to stay at her residence.

Laura A. Hewitt was charged on April 18 in Waukesha County Circuit Court with two counts of felony false swearing and felony theft, greater than $5,000 but less than $10,000.

Hewitt previously pleaded guilty on March 27, 2012 in Racine County Circuit Court to one count of misappropriate ID information to obtain money, a felony for which she was sentenced to two years imprisonment and two years extended supervision. That sentence was stayed in lieu of three years probation.

On April 1, Denise Berndt contacted Waukesha City Police to report the theft of jewelry from her residence, at 2716 Sterling Court.

She said that her family allowed a homeless friend of her daughter, Hewitt, to live with them for approximately two weeks in March before kicking her out. While she was cleaning her house on March 29, Berndt said she noticed multiple pieces of jewelry, approximately $9,290 worth, was missing from her room, along with several other items of lesser value.

An officer searched through a police database that records property sold at pawn shops and determined that Hewitt had sold several pieces of jewelry between March 14 and March 29.

Altogether, Hewitt allegedly sold 13 pieces of jewelry belonging to Berndt, including a diamond pendant and several gold rings, to various pawn shops and jewelers in the city of Brookfield and Wauwatosa. During each transaction, Hewitt signed a state-mandated form verifying that the jewelry belonged to her.

Hewitt's grandmother told police that several pieces of jewelry had also allegedly been stolen from her by Hewitt and was "very emotional" when she learned that her jewelry had been melted down before it could be recovered. She said that several of the pieces had been given to her by her deceased husband during their marriage.

Hewitt told police that she had a $100-a-day heroin habit, describing herself as a "fiend" who would do almost anything to get it. She admitted to stealing the jewelry from Bendt, as well as several DVDs and a Confederate folding knife.

If convicted, Hewitt could face up to 26 years in prison, $30,000 in fines, or both. The potential prison sentence is almost double what it would normally be because Hewitt has been charged as a repeat offender. She was previously convicted in February 2012 of felony forgery.

Hewitt is currently being held on a $20,000 cash bond and is to appear in court on May 2.

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