A Florida woman alleged to be part of a group traveling to the Iowa Quad-Cities and other areas to break into vehicles and steal checks and other items was sentenced Thursday to up to 25 years in prison.
Shari Lee Buzzard, 36, of North Lauderdale, declined to make a statement before Judge Stuart Werling sentenced her on one count of ongoing criminal conduct, a Class B felony, during a hearing in Scott County District Court.
The judge also ordered her to pay $5,905 in victim restitution.
She pleaded guilty to the charge in March, and prosecutors on Thursday dismissed other charges, including conspiracy to commit a non-forcible felony, identity theft, second-degree theft, and forgery.
According to the arrest affidavits, on Sept. 25, at 12:43 p.m., Buzzard went to the drive-through of the University of Iowa Credit Union, 2123 53rd Ave., Bettendorf. Using a stolen driver's license and debit card, she cashed a personal check for $2,000. She then produced a second check written on a different personal account for $2,300.
The checks had been stolen from vehicles in Grimes, Iowa, and Davenport. The driver's license and debit card were stolen from a vehicle in Coralville.
On Sept. 26, at 11:03 a.m., Buzzard went to the University of Iowa Credit Union and, using a stolen driver's license and debit card attempted to cash a check for $7,500. It had been reported stolen from a vehicle in Bettendorf on Sept. 22.
As Bettendorf police arrived at the bank, she fled and a high-speed chase ensued.
Buzzard was released on her own recognizance; a bench warrant was issued Oct. 25 after she failed to appear for her arraignment. In the meantime, she picked up additional felony charges of identity theft and theft by deception in Kentucky, Assistant Scott County Attorney Caleb Copley said at sentencing. She refused to waive extradition and a governor's warrant was sought to bring her back to Iowa at a considerable expense, Copley said.
She was arrested on the warrant Feb. 13 and has remained in the Scott County Jail.
He said Buzzard "came up here to this community with the sole purpose of committing crime."
"That’s the only reason she was here,” Copley said.
Her attorney, Melanie Thwing, argued for probation, saying it is "telling" her criminal history occurred in 2018 and beyond.
That is an indication of a larger issue – like substance abuse or mental health, she argued.
Thwing also said Buzzard has completed numerous programs in jail.