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Phony cheerleader scam ends in jail
Woman posing as cheerleader to serve a year

 Mitchell
Visit the Photo Place

Date published: 1/31/2008

BY ELLEN BILTZ

The Fairfax woman who posed as a high school cheerleader in order to bilk Spotsylvania County residents out of money was sentenced yesterday to a year in jail.

Tasha Marie Mitchell, 20, will serve the sentence on four felony counts of obtaining money by false pretenses.

The charges stemmed from a scam in which she visited houses in the Fawn Lake subdivision last May, posed as a Riverbend High School cheerleader or soccer player and asked people for "donations."

Mitchell's charges were felonies because of her criminal record, which includes multiple convictions of the same nature.

Her new jail sentence won't even begin until she's finished serving the nine months she was sentenced to last September in Fairfax.

Mitchell also has a previous conviction in California and news stories link her to arrests in Oregon and Texas.

She has pending charges in Maryland and Georgia as well. She is yet to go to court on those.

Mitchell's attorney, public defender Elizabeth Hutson, asked Judge David H. Beck yesterday to allow Mitchell to enter into the work release program during her sentence and attend Germanna Community College, saying Mitchell fared well in GED testing and got her GED while in jail. She said Mitchell even tutored others and wanted to go to college.

But Beck told Mitchell she needed to serve time for her deceitful behavior before continuing her education.

"It's such a tragedy to see a person with these skills and capabilities misusing the skills to be a criminal," Beck said. "The loss of the ability to trust a person is a real tragedy and that's what you face."

The sentence was exactly what prosecutor Brian Boyle asked Beck to give to the woman whose criminal history, he argued, warrants time to sit and think about her actions.

"It's been a string of activities. She hasn't changed her game any," he said.

Mitchell's convictions and charges in other localities vary between her asking for donations and selling fake magazine subscriptions.

Mitchell told Beck in court yesterday that she got mixed up with the scam company, Tuscan Readers Services, when she was 18 years old and couldn't get away from the lifestyle the company gave her, even after her initial charges.

"I was addicted to the money and there were drugs involved," she said.

Despite her extensive recent history, Mitchell said this time, she plans to change her ways.

"This is my first incarceration," she said about why this time, it would be different.

Ellen Biltz: 540/374-5424
Email: ebiltz@freelancestar.com