Editor's note: The original version of this story misidentified Winhall Police Sgt. Josh Epstein as a Vermont State Trooper. The information has been updated below.
BENNINGTON -- After dropping off a job application at a local restaurant, a woman allegedly stole a purse from one of the cars in the parking lot, then along with a male friend bought over $1,000 in items using a stolen credit card.
Ivy R. Katz, 38, of Manchester, pleaded not guilty Monday in Vermont Superior Court to a felony count of possession of stolen property, identity theft, false pretenses or false tokens, and misdemeanor counts of giving false information to police and heroin possession.
Jonathan G. Hoyt, 33, of Bennington, was named as a co-defendant and on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to felony counts of possession of stolen property, identity theft, false pretenses or false tokens, obstruction of justice, and misdemeanor counts of heroin possession and false information to police. He was placed under $15,000 bail and ordered to obey a 24-hour curfew at his home in Bennington.
According to an affidavit by Winhall Police Sgt. Josh Epstein, at 8:15 p.m. on Dec. 15 he spoke to an employee at the Red Fox Restaurant in Winhall who said a woman had come in and filled out a job application. She left, and he witnessed her try the doors on three cars in the parking lot before leaving in her own vehicle. Later, a customer reported her purse was missing.
Katz had filled out the application, and so police used the contact information she provided and went looking for her. Epstein pulled her over on Route 30 and found her with Hoyt. She appeared nervous and said nothing when asked about the purse, however when asked again she leaned toward Hoyt, who then produced the purse from a backpack. Katz was ordered out of the vehicle when Epstein saw a butcher knife between the driver and passenger seats.
Epstein said there was also the orange cap to a hypodermic needle on the car floor. Hoyt said there was no heroin in the vehicle, however after it was searched police found a Crown Royal bag with eight hypodermic needles, an empty bindle of heroin labeled "NyQuil," three spoons with a heroin-like residue, and cotton balls with dried blood on them.
An empty pill bottle bearing the name of the woman whose purse was allegedly stolen was also found, along with a number of brand new items bearing price tags. Those items included an $800 ski jacket, a $95 fleece, a $154 pair of snow pants, and four pairs of sunglasses valued at $209 each.
Police spoke to the owner of the shop where the items were bought and were told a man and a woman bought them earlier. Both appeared under the influence, were in a hurry, and did not give their names to receive a 10 percent discount.
Both were temporarily put in holding cells at the Winhall Police Department, but were close enough to converse. Epstein heard Hoyt tell Katz to claim the credit card was her aunt's. Katz said she did not know the card was stolen and had it given to her by Hoyt.
Epstein wrote that their stories conflicted and changed multiple times. Both denied ownership of the heroin paraphernalia.
Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.