After deputies served a search warrant and recovered more than 3,000 stolen items from her home, a Columbus woman continued to pawn stolen jewelry, Delaware County Prosecutor Carol O’Brien alleged Friday during the court arraignment for the woman facing more than 100 charges.
Susan Gwynne, 55, of Columbus, was described by O’Brien as a “true menace.”
Gwynne entered a not-guilty plea Friday morning to 101 charges in connection with more than 3,000 items stolen from 13 assisted living facilities in Delaware and Franklin counties over the past eight years. Her bond was set at $150,000.
Delaware County Common Pleas Judge David Gormley accepted her not-guilty plea and scheduled a trial for Aug. 16 and a pretrial hearing for Aug. 1 at 1:45 p.m. O’Brien estimated the trial would take at least a week.
When discussing Gwynne’s bond, O’Brien asked that Gormley set a high bond amount because O’Brien worried if she was released from the Delaware County Jail she would continue to steal things or pawn already-stolen items.
“We believe if she remains out she will continue to victimize the elderly,” O’Brien said.
Authorities raided Gwynne’s home on March 26 but did not arrest her until June 16 — more than 11 weeks later — when she turned herself in to Columbus police one day after a Delaware County grand jury indicted her.
Gwynne’s attorney, David Birch, told Gormley that when Gwynne saw a news article on the internet about the warrant for her arrest, she called police to turn herself in. She does not pose a flight risk, Birch said.
O’Brien told Gormley that detectives from the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office and Franklin County recovered more than 3,000 items on March 26 at a home located at 5540 Ravine Bluff Court, Columbus. O’Brien said that between the execution of the search warrant on March 26 and Gwynne’s indictment on June 15, Gwynne traveled to several pawn shops, including some in Dayton and other counties, and pawned several pieces of jewelry that prosecutors believe was stolen.
O’Brien asked that a condition be added to Gwynne’s bond stipulating that Gwynne not be allowed to go to pawn shops or assisted living facilities if she is released from the Delaware County Jail. Gormley agreed and added the condition.
After the arraignment, O’Brien said the victims in the case were “distraught” and said that some of the items stolen were purely sentimental, like dog tags from deceased relatives or baby bracelets.
“She preys on vulnerability,” O’Brien said. “I believe she is a true menace to people.”
Prosecutors said most of the crime scenes are in Franklin County. The Delaware County assisted living facilities affected were The Inn at Olentangy Trail and Abbington of Powell, located at 3971 Bradford Road, Powell.
An investigation of the stolen jewelry began after deputies received a call in January regarding a theft from an elderly woman living at The Inn at Olentangy Trail, located at 6 Corduroy Road, Delaware.
After the call, the sheriff’s office began circulating a surveillance photo taken at The Inn at Olentangy Trail and a caller from another county led deputies to Gwynne.
Deputies reported other missing items included cash, credit cards and Social Security cards. Prosecutors said Thursday that several stolen items were also recovered from area pawn shops.
Prosecutors said that since the initial report and release of Gwynne’s photo, additional victims have come forward. Prosecutors said the indictment lists 31 victims who are in their 70s, 80s and 90s. The oldest victim is 101 years old. O’Brien said Friday that because of the scale of the case and the number of victims, it may be possible that more charges are filed later.
Earlier this week, O’Brien said that Gwynne had once worked as a nurse’s aide.
Gwynne faces 31 counts of burglary, which are second-degree felonies; 43 felony counts of theft; 12 counts of possessing criminal tools, which are fifth-degree felonies; and 15 counts of receiving stolen property, which are first-degree misdemeanors.
The indictment alleges that Gwynne has been stealing from victims since April 2008. The last theft was in March 2016, court documents indicate. Deputies said Thursday that investigators learned of the older crimes while investigating the 2016 thefts.
Gwynne was in the Delaware County Jail Friday.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.