Bobbi Ann Finley, the so-called “Military Mistress” accused of bilking servicemen across the nation, was released from an Alabama prison this week.
Her freedom was short-lived.
Two Pierce County detectives met her at the prison gates and arrested her on a 2011 warrant charging her with theft for allegedly convincing a local woman to cash bad checks for her, Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said Wednesday.
They booked her into the Pierce County Jail on Tuesday, and she appeared in Superior Court on Wednesday afternoon where she was formally charged with second-degree theft. A not guilty plea was entered on her behalf, and Court Commissioner Meagan Foley ordered her jailed in lieu of $200,000 bail.
Finley, 37, hadn’t been assigned a public defender as of Wednesday afternoon.
Troyer said the Sheriff’s Department went to the trouble to fetch Finley from Alabama because she is a notorious con artist who preys on service members. She lived in Pierce County for a time and might have victimized people here, he said.
“She’s drained bank accounts. She’s pretended she’s in the military. She’s had kids by guys who don’t even know they’re dads,” Troyer said Wednesday. “She’s multidimensional. We didn’t want five more victims.”
Troyer said anyone who thinks he or she might have been victimized by Finley should call the Sheriff’s Department.
Finley is alleged to have married 14 times over the years and borne as many as nine children, the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office said in a news release. Authorities suspect she’s operated in 14 states, including Washington. She is thought to have lived in the Buckley area and Kitsap County, where she has a criminal conviction from 2007.
“Ms. Finley has been a prolific and remorseless con artist,” Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said, “but now the jig is up.”
Finley was the subject of an investigation by ABC’s 20/20 program in 2010. She told co-anchor Chris Cuomo she was the victim of a tough upbringing.
“I wasn’t running a con,” Finley told Cuomo. “I wanted protection, the protection I should have had growing up … I married these guys I couldn’t love.”
She was convicted of a count of theft by deception in Alabama in 2011 and sentenced to a prison term, ABC News reported in a July 2011 story.
In the Pierce County case, she’s accused of posing as a U.S. Marine in 2009 and befriending a local woman.
Finley told the woman she had just returned from Iraq and that local banks would not cash her checks, court records state. Finley allegedly convinced the woman to deposit personal checks into her bank account then withdraw cash for Finley.
Prosecutors said the cashed checks totaled $2,455. Problem was, the checks were from closed accounts, the records show.
Pierce County prosecutors charged her in 2011 and a warrant was issued for her arrest when she didn’t show up for court, records show.