Charges filed against woman with string of open felony theft cases

Stock image | Photo by Matt Gush/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A Washington City woman was charged Monday after a trailer once containing more than $50,000 in stolen property was found empty by police on St. George Boulevard — one of several open cases filed against the suspect, including a case where she allegedly tried to pawn thousands of dollars of jewelry in Cedar City.

Charges were filed by the Washington County Attorney’s Office against 33-year-old Jennifer Hudson, who also faces a misdemeanor possession of paraphernalia charge, following an investigation into a theft report called in to police involving a $9,000 cargo trailer that was stolen while parked near the owner’s shop last week.

Arriving officers were told the trailer contained “tens of thousands” of dollars worth of property that belonged to the owner’s family members.

Police soon learned a family member of the trailer’s owner had already filed a separate report after they found several of the items listed on Facebook Marketplace. They advised authorities that they had arranged a meeting with the seller at a storage unit on 700 South in St. George.

During the meeting, officers also arrived and detained the suspect, later identified as Hudson, who gave officers consent to search the unit where the intended sale was taking place.

The reporting party also responded to the unit and identified items taken from the trailer that had a combined value of more than $30,000, and another $20,000 in property was still unaccounted for.

Jennifer Nichole Hudson, 33, of Washington City, booking photo taken in Washington County, Utah, Oct. 13, 2020 | Photos courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

The report also states that Hudson told officers she knew the items were stolen prior to posting the sale ads on social media and provided the address where the trailer was located.

Authorities responded to the location where they found the empty trailer parked on St. George Boulevard that was subsequently returned to its rightful owner.

The suspect also denied having any involvement in the actual theft of the trailer and told police she was pressured into selling the items by the man who did. She also told police that some of the property that had yet to be recovered was out of state.

Hudson was transported to Purgatory Correctional Facility and the charges listed were filed Monday.

This is not the suspect’s first run-in with the law.

In March, the suspect was arrested by Washington County Drug Task Force agents serving a warrant on her residence and allegedly recovered what appeared to be methamphetamine and black tar heroin.

Hudson was later transported and booked into jail in Washington County facing four misdemeanor drug and paraphernalia charges that are still pending in the courts.

Hudson also has an open case from April 2019 involving a jewelry theft in which “thousands of dollars in jewelry” was reportedly taken. The investigation into the incident began April 7 when police were called by a pawnshop owner in Cedar City who reported a suspicious transaction involving the suspect.

According to the shop owner, Hudson came into the store carrying “a bag full of jewelry” and acted “somewhat nervous” as she answered questions regarding a backstory on the items, which included diamond wedding rings, according to charging documents filed in support of the arrest.

Hudson told the owner she received the items during a 12-year relationship she was no longer involved in. The caller also noted to police that the jewelry was of an older vintage style, one that would unlikely be purchased by or for a woman in her 30s.

“The jewelry far dates Jennifer’s age,” the officer noted in the report. “And what is considered more modern now.”

The suspect was offered $500 to pawn seven rings and two necklaces. But instead of handing the suspect cash, the store owner gave her a check, a move meant to stall the transaction until the store could verify the items were not reported as stolen, World Class Pawn owner Michael Hill told St. George News on Monday.

Hill was able to contact a relative of the suspect, who told him Hudson had allegedly been “stealing from her family for years,” the report states, and he advised the owner they had items that possibly belonged to them.

The check given to Hudson was then canceled, which is when the suspect and a man claiming to be her boyfriend started calling the shop asking why the check had been canceled.

File photo of World Class Pawn and Jewelry; the store is almost ready to officially reopen more than two months after a fire damaged the building, Cedar City, Utah, Sept. 25 2020 | File photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

When the calls became more belligerent, the owner told the man the jewelry was likely stolen and that it was going to be investigated as such. The store’s owner then contacted the police.

Officers arrived at the business along with the family member that had been contacted. The relative identified four of the gold rings encrusted with diamonds and other precious stones valued at more than $2,000 as jewelry that had been given to her by another family member who had since passed away.

Officers also learned that Hudson had been “victimizing” her family for years, and the jewelry in question was taken months before. But for whatever reason, the officer noted, the incidents went unreported to police.

Hill told St. George News a common misperception is that stolen goods are often pawned for cash. But in reality, he said, the exact opposite is true, as the customer is required to provide a photo ID and is fingerprinted and photographed, all of which is sent to the police department daily along with a detailed description of the items pawned.

The store also reportedly has a good relationship with the police department, so whenever there is a doubt, like in this case, they can call authorities if ever there is a problem, he said.

The suspect was arrested by police and charged with third-degree felony theft following the incident at the pawnshop. Hudson was released on a promise to appear nine days later. The defendant is scheduled to enter a guilty plea on the charge Monday via video conference from the jail.

Officers in Cedar City were also notified that Hudson was wanted by the Piute County Sheriff’s Office where she faced three second-degree felony charges, including burglary of a dwelling and two counts of theft relating to a case filed in February that same year. Authorities there listed the suspect in the national crime information computer, requesting they be contacted in the event of an arrest. Once Hudson was booked into jail in Iron County, Piute authorities were notified.

In that case, a call came into emergency dispatch reporting three suspicious individuals near a mini mart on Main Street in Junction, a town with a population of 177 in Piute County in December 2018.

Piute County Sheriff Marty Gleave responded to the store where he was advised that two men and a woman, later identified as Hudson, had been hanging around the store for more than five hours, and the trio drove off in a black passenger car just before the sheriff’s arrival.

The clerk also reported seeing the suspects near the courthouse across the street, which is where police found footprints in the snow that led into the garage of a residence a block or so away. They also noted a set of tire tracks near the back door of the residence.

Junction Mini Mart where three suspects were allegedly seen loitering, Junction, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Google Maps, St. George News

Authorities left when they found no damage or other signs of a break-in. They later sent out a broadcast to all officers to locate the black vehicle. The following day, the vehicle was spotted leaving the same property where officers found the footprints. And when officers responded, they found damage to the back door of the residence and no signs of the Jaguar that belonged to the homeowner. The car was later found abandoned several miles from the home.

The homeowner also told police that “someone kicked in the back door, ransacked her house and stole many items,” according to the report, and added that other items were left in a manner that suggested the suspects planned to return for them later. All told, more than $6,100 in valuables was taken from the property in addition to the Jaguar and other heirlooms, the value of which could not be assessed.

Officers then returned to the mini-mart and pulled surveillance footage that showed the three suspects, one of which was Hudson. In the footage, she provided a date of birth to the clerk when she purchased cigarettes, which the employee wrote down and provided to police.

Using that information, a computer check provided the names of three individuals with the same date of birth, and after scouring social media sites, officers were able to narrow it down to one name — Hudson — who also matched the description of the woman in the surveillance footage and who the clerk confirmed was involved in the suspicious persons incident.

One of the men was identified as Noah Benjamin Thomas, who knew the homeowners where the burglary took place. Months before, the couple had taken Thomas in temporarily because he had no place to live, but had him arrested a short time later after he allegedly stole from them.

Charges were later filed against Hudson and Thomas, while the third man in the footage was never identified by authorities in Paiute County.

Following last week’s arrest in St. George, Hudson remains in custody on $10,700 bail.

This report is based on statements from court records, police or other 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.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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