BENNINGTON -- A South Street woman is accused of forging a check from her friend and cashing it, claiming she had sold the friend a gift card.

Jill M. Lebert, 36, pleaded not guilty Monday in Vermont Superior Court to two felony counts of forgery, a misdemeanor count of false pretenses or false tokens, and petit larceny. She was released on conditions she not have contact with Susan Onorato.

According to an affidavit by Bennington Police Cpl. Andy Hunt, on Dec. 27 Onorato reported a check was stolen from her, forged, and written out for $200. She showed Hunt another check of hers and said the signature looked nothing like the one on the false check. She suspected Lebert took the check because she had access to where the checkbook was kept.

Hunt said the check was endorsed by Lebert's sister-in-law, who works at the bank where it was cashed. The sister-in-law said Lebert came into the bank on Dec. 24 to cash the check and said she had sold a gift card to Onorato. The sister-in-law said she knew Lebert had been trying to sell the card, so this did not seem suspicious. She endorsed the check for her as Lebert did not have an account with the bank.

Lebert told police that Onorato must not have remembered writing the check and buying the gift card.

According to the affidavit, Lebert was already facing pending charges related to allegedly passing bad checks.

Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at kwhitcomb@benningtonbanner.



com or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.