Men plead guilty to bank card fraud
by Staff Report
Aug 19, 2010 | 2069 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Two men accused of numerous fraudulent transactions at a local convenience store pleaded guilty Wednesday before Superior Court Judge Shepherd Howell. Assayehgn Tarka Tewonde and Henok Biede Weldemicael, both of Atlanta, each pleaded guilty to more than 70 counts in the November 2009 case.

Bartow County Sheriff's Office deputies arrested the pair after they purchased more than $2,000 in cigarettes with invalid gift cards. The men had returned to the Mapco Express convenience store at 1914 Joe Frank Harris Parkway to purchase more cigarettes, and employees called police, reporting that each time the men entered the store, the credit card machine malfunctioned.

Store personnel found a piece of aluminum foil blocking the satellite signal on the roof, which apparently prevented transmission. The gift cards the pair used had no value, but the store was notified of that after the original purchase.

Tewonde and Weldemicael each pleaded guilty to the counts of financial transaction card fraud, theft by taking and criminal trespass. In a non-negotiated plea, Tewonde was sentenced to 14 years, four of which he was ordered to serve in prison.

Weldemicael was sentenced to serve six months of a 10-year sentence in jail. Both men are set to serve the remainders of their sentences on probation. Each was also ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.