St. George Police arrest 70-year-old fugitive; Pennsylvania wants her back

St. George Police officers respond to a two-vehicle collision on Bluff Street, St. George, Utah, Feb. 20, 2018 | File photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A woman wanted on multiple felonies out of Pennsylvania was arrested Saturday in St. George and will be returning east to answer to the charges.

Lana Sue Laughbaum, 70, of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, was arrested by St. George Police officers Saturday afternoon after responding to an animal clinic in St. George, the department’s spokeswoman Lona Trombley said.

Booking photo of Lana Sue Laughbaum taken June 16, 2018 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

Officers received an “information/suspicious call on a female” at the clinic. While investigating the call, officers performed a records check on Laughbaum that returned an active warrant out of Jefferson County, Pennsylvania.

She was arrested and booked into Purgatory Correctional Facility.

Once extradition arrangements have been made, Laughbaum will be returned to Pennsylvania, Jefferson County Sheriff Carl J. Gotwald Sr. told St. George News Tuesday.

Laughbaum is wanted for failing to appear on five felony charges of theft by deception for allegedly selling timber contracts she was not authorized to sell, in addition to several cases involving bad checks that are still outstanding.

Laughbaum ran the Godot Animal Sanctuary until the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered the 160-acre property closed on April 15.

A bench warrant was issued for the fugitive May 10 after she failed to appear in court, and she was featured June 7 as the “Fugitive of the Week” by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

Booking photo labeled “IN CUSTODY” of Lana Sue Laughbaum posted June 17, 2018 | Photo courtesy of the Jefferson County (Pa.) Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

“The five felony charges involve several different logging companies that she scammed out of money by selling timber from the land where the sanctuary was located,” Gotwald said.

“That was land she didn’t own.”

The sheriff said that both the fraud and bad check cases involve tens of thousands of dollars, but it’s not just a monetary issue.

“It’s the policy of Jefferson County that regardless of the charge, if you run we are going to come and get you and bring you back here.”

Laughbaum is also wanted by the Pennsylvania Game Commission on five counts of unlawfully taking and possessing game or wildlife, two counts of possessing regulated wildlife without permits, one count of failing to obtain proper permits.

A witness told police that Laughbaum left to have plastic surgery performed on her nose after a dog bite left it disfigured, Gotwald said.

“And then she just disappeared.”

This report is based on statements from police or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • No Filter June 19, 2018 at 2:57 pm

    I feel sorry for that poor dog that bit her. I hope it doesn’t catch anything.

  • RVer June 20, 2018 at 8:00 am

    Phil is very, very dismayed at her behavior.

  • comments June 21, 2018 at 7:20 pm

    so her nose is so mangled up they let her wear a surgical mask for the mugshot? really bizarre.

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