Woman Pleads Guilty to Stealing Southport Widow's Identity
Posted February 25, 2008 12:54 p.m. EST
Updated February 25, 2008 9:48 p.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — A 63-year-old woman pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of aggravated identity theft after prosecutors argued she victimized an elderly Southport widow.
Prosecutors said that Sandra Camille Bridewell Powers – who goes by variations of that name – made unauthorized charges on a credit card belonging to Sue Moseley, 77. She also diverted Social Security funds from Moseley and cashed forged checks totaling $2,419.57 in December 2006 and January 2007, they charged.
Investigators said Moseley let Powers live in her house after the younger woman claimed to be a missionary planning to go overseas. Powers performed chores for Moseley and became increasingly involved in the homeowner's financial affairs.
"She was charming, and she could con the socks off anybody," said Gloria Rehrig, the mother of Powers' third husband, whose death in Oklahoma is labeled an unsolved murder. "She always dressed to the hilt, and she was beautiful."
The weekly Dallas Observer reported that Powers tried to take control of Moseley's medications and change the address on Moseley's Social Security card and the name of the beneficiary on Moseley's life insurance.
Powers also tried to convince Moseley to buy a property where she could teach organic farming methods, according to the paper.
Powers faced multiple identity theft charges on Monday, but pleaded guilty to a single count of aggravated identity theft. District Judge James C. Dever III asked lawyers to research the legality of that plea and said he would decide whether to accept it at her sentencing in May.
When she was arrested in March 2007, Powers was carrying financial documents, mail, a JCPenney's MasterCard and other credit and gift cards belonging to Moseley. She also had photocopies of altered bank and income statements for Moseley, investigators said.
Investigators said Powers' closest affiliation to a religious group was going on three tourist trips organized by Marilyn Hickey Ministries. Her passport expired in 2005.
Aggravated identity theft carries a maximum sentence of two years and/or a $250,000 fine.
Powers has been held in the Franklin County Jail on a $1.5 million bond since her arrest.
'Rich people, sex and murder'
Crews from the Arts & Entertainment Network's "Cold Case" program and a reporter from the Dallas Observer were in the courtroom to see Powers' appearance – along with the mother of her third husband.
Oklahoma police suspect but have never questioned Powers in the shooting death of Alan Rehrig in 1985, according to news reports. They consider his death an unsolved murder.
"I'll write to her and try anything to see if we can get a confession," Gloria Rehrig said.
Alan Rehrig, a dentist, was found shot to death in his car on Dec. 7, 1985 – a month after the couple split and one day before their first wedding anniversary. Oklahoma City police consider his death an unsolved murder, according to news reports.
Glenna Whitley, a reporter for the Dallas Observer, has followed Powers through the deaths of her three husbands and a female friend.
"It's got everything – rich people and sex and murder," Whitley said.
Powers' second husband died of cancer. Her first husband and a female friend – the wife of the doctor who who treated her second husband when had cancer – also died of gunshot wounds. Those deaths were ruled suicides.
Her fourth, and most recent, marriage ended in a divorce.