A 28-year-old Putnam County man was convicted this week of stealing an elderly woman's debit card and going on a $3,000 shopping spree.
On Wednesday, a jury found Zachary K. Gootee guilty on seven counts, including forgery, fraud, theft and being a habitual offender, according to Putnam County Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter.
Gootee faces up to 22 years in prison and will be sentenced on Aug. 23.
His 93-year-old victim, Ruth Stanger of Greencastle Township, testified in court that Gootee came to her home in early December of last year, claiming to be having car trouble, and asked to use her telephone. When the woman left the room, Gootee stole the woman's purse and then used her debit card to buy several items at Indianapolis area department stores.
Stanger's purse was never recovered, but her bank put a stop on her debit card as soon as they noticed the unusual activity, Bookwalter explained.
Gootee was on the lamb from authorities until January of this year when the BannerGraphic published a photo showing him walking out of an Indianapolis area Meijer store with a flat-screen television.
Bookwalter said that after the photo ran in the newspaper, Crime Stoppers reported receiving numerous phone calls from people who recognized Gootee.