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Mass. woman sentenced for ID theft, Salem shopping spree

BRENTWOOD — A 57-year-old woman caught using the identities of five different women during a week-long shopping spree in Salem last year received a suspended prison sentence for identity fraud, but will remain in prison at least until 2015 for violating her probation.

Deborah Couture, of Lawrence, Mass., pleaded guilty to three counts of identity fraud for allegedly trying to buy thousands of dollars worth of merchandise at various stores in Salem last October.

Couture was originally indicted on 10 charges that included identity fraud and theft for shopping trips that happened at T.J. Maxx, Kohl’s, Lowe’s and J.C. Penney in Salem.

The shopping trips began Oct. 12, 2012, and ended with her arrest by Salem police on Oct. 23, 2012.

Her plea deal requires her to serve two to five years in state prison on a 2011 conviction for hiding six cans of stolen baby formula from Derry police outside of a Burger King restaurant, according to court records.

Couture received a 3- to 6-year prison sentence in the identity fraud case, which will be suspended if she stays trouble free for seven years once she is released from prison, according to a judge’s order.

Her plea deal was finalized earlier this month in Rockingham County Superior Court.

Prosecutors say Couture tried to spend thousands of dollars on a West Virginia woman’s credit, and had photo identifications that helped her impersonate four other women living in Florida, Maryland and Missouri.

Couture purchased $288 in merchandise from a Kohl’s department store on Oct. 12, 2012, while impersonating the West Virginia woman, who already had a credit account with the retail chain, according to police.

Couture checked out with her merchandise and returned a short time later, attempting to purchase another $1,500 in various items.

But that transaction was denied by loss prevention workers, police said. Later that day, Couture tried to obtain a fraudulent credit account at J.C. Penney and at T.J. Maxx, according to indictments.

She was able to make purchases at the T.J. Maxx store after successfully getting a credit account there, prosecutors said.

Couture went to a Lowe’s store in Salem on Oct. 14, 2012, with another woman and filled two shopping carts full of merchandise that totaled more than $1,000. She was barred from making the purchase after applying for a credit account using the West Virginia ID, police said.

Police ultimately tracked down Couture using store security footage of the vehicle she traveled in during the various shopping trips.

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