ShareThis Page

Girlfriend runs up credit card bill

| Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, 1:11 a.m.

A Brownsville woman was accused Tuesday of racking up nearly $10,000 in credit card charges in her boyfriend's name.

Monessen police said Brenda Lee Wright, 56, used a Fifth Third Bank credit card issued to Paul Shanefelt of Monessen for 53 transactions totaling $9,727 from Feb. 28 through April 8.

The two had been living together at Shanefelt's Dennis Avenue residence, police said.

Officer Dave Yuhasz said the investigation began June 28 when Shanefelt reported he was a victim of identify theft.

He told police his Fifth Third Bank MasterCard account had a balance of $10,713.55.

Shanefelt told police he had no knowledge of having any card from that bank until he received a late-charge statement.

Fifth Third Bank faxed Yuhasz receipts from five purchases made at various stores with someone else using Shanefelt's signature – along with an online transaction with catalog company, Fingerhut. Wright also allegedly used the credit card for cash withdrawals.

Police said the Fingerhut order was shipped to Shanefelt's residence, and included a crock pot, a slow cooker, Paris Hilton perfume and a Steelers hoodie. Police said that on Dec. 12, the name on the Fingerhut account was changed from Shanefelt to Wright.

Yuhasz said that on Oct. 7, he received confirmation from Fifth Third Bank that a card issued to Shanefelt was used 53 times for purchases and cash withdraws earlier this year.

During an interview with police later that day, Wright allegedly confessed that she applied for the credit card in Shanefelt's name so he could consolidate other credit accounts to save money.

Police said Wright claimed she made cash withdrawals for household repairs to the furnace, dryer and refrigerator. Wight said that at the time, she was unemployed and Shanefelt was laid off from his job.

In an Oct. 16 interview, Shanefelt told police that during the time of the alleged transactions, he was taking truck-driving classes and that Wright had been fired from her job for calling in sick.

Shanefelt said he used a Discover credit card to purchase a refrigerator and pay for furnace repairs, and wrote a check for dryer repairs. When asked if he received any money from Wright for those payments, he said “No,” according to police.

Police said Shanefelt denied being present with Wright when she applied for the Fifth Third Bank card, adding the only credit card he ever applied for was the Discover card.

Wright was charged with five counts of fraud, 53 counts of access device fraud issued to another who did not authorize use, and one count of theft by unlawful taking.

Her preliminary hearing is scheduled 10 a.m. Dec. 20 before Magisterial District Judge Joseph Dalfonso in Monessen.

Rick Bruni Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 724-684-2635.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.