Woman accused of stealing storm donation items - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Woman accused of stealing storm donation items

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Belinda McCluskey is accused of pretending her home was damaged in order to collect donation items. (Source: Limestone Co. Sheriff's Dept.) Belinda McCluskey is accused of pretending her home was damaged in order to collect donation items. (Source: Limestone Co. Sheriff's Dept.)
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ATHENS, AL (WAFF) -

From so much good to come after the April 28 storms, with donations pouring in and neighbor helping neighbor, comes word of a Limestone County woman accused of helping herself.

Belinda McCluskey faces a third-degree theft charge after deputies said she loaded up an excessive amount of donations and lied about being a tornado victim.

Deputies said she gave a fake name to volunteers and lied about where she lived. Volunteers were the ones who made the initial call to get investigators involved.

Donations continue to stream in at a makeshift donation site at the Old Catfish Inn Restaurant on Highway 72 in Athens. It started over a week ago by a local woman who said she wanted to help her community. Anyone in need can stop by and pick up clothes and shoes free of charge.

Deputies said McCluskey went overboard and pretended her home was damaged to steal items, and even sent friends to collect more for her.

When she showed up once again to load up, a deputy was waiting. When they made it to her home at a nearby trailer park, everything was intact.

"Anytime there is a tragedy, there is always going to be those few who see it as an opportunity of the situation, but there is just now way around that, it just happens," said Investigator Leslie Ramsey.

Deputies said McCluskey said she would give back all of the donations, but they are not sure if she's made good on the promise. They hope that her charges will stand as a warning to others.

"We charged her with theft third because it is theft, and also to send a message that these sites are for people who are truly victims, and not for people who are just looking to exploit the situation," said Ramsey.

In the meantime, McCluskey is out of jail on a $1,000 bond.

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