Thursday June 21, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- A North Adams woman who allegedly broke into a car while the owner was in a hospital emergency room, stole checks and then forged them for pizza, gift mugs and cards, was arraigned on Wednesday on two felonies in Central Berkshire District Court.

Kristina Ashrut, 38, of Yale Street, appeared in court on a summons, pleaded not guilty to one count each of breaking and entering a vehicle in the daytime for a felony and larceny over $250. She was released on her own recognizance and will be back in court on Aug. 9 for a pretrial hearing.

On March 17, while 19-year-old Keiyara Dodge was in the Berkshire Medical Center emer gency room, her car was broken into and a wallet, checkbook, iPod and phone charger were stolen, according to police.

During the investigation by the Pittsfield Police through bank records and interviews with business owners, they were able to track down three forged checks allegedly written by Ashrut to a diner and a gift shop in Lee and a pizza restaurant in Nashua, N.H. The forged checks amounted to just over $203.

Pittsfield Police Officer Shaun Osborn tracked down the defendant through a car she had rented, identifying tattoos, an old arrest from Will iamstown and other methods. When he spoke to her, she allegedly admitted that she saw the wallet in Dodge's car while she was walking her dog near BMC and stole the wallet and checkbook from the car, but denied stealing the iPod -- allegedly worth $300 -- and the phone charger. The wallet was later returned to Dodge through the mail.

Police said Ashrut also admitted writing the checks.

Ashrut told Osborn when she got her tax return she planned on paying Dodge back and writing a note of apology.

She is being represented by attorney Thomas M. Sherman Jr.

No identity theft, forgery or uttering false check charges out of Lee have been filed in the case as of Wednesday, according to the Southern Berkshire District Court clerk's office. It was unclear whether charges had been filed against Ashrut in New Hamp shire.