Holy Fire Fraudster Sentenced to 177 Days in Jail

Ashley Bemis’ mug shot, courtesy OCSD

On Friday March 1, Ashley Bemis pleaded guilty to one felony count of grand theft, six misdemeanor counts of dissuading a witness, 24 misdemeanor counts of fraud by false representation, and four felony counts of second degree burglary for defrauding people online in the wake of the Holy Fire.

In case you forgot, the 28 year–old Bemis used Facebook to solicit donations which she claimed would be sent to firefighters battling the Holy Fire. Bemis claimed her firefighter husband, Shane, would pass out all the food, gatorade bottles, and clothes she received from donors. In reality, Shane didn’t exist, and Bemis pocketed all the goods and cash she received.

Read more here.

Bemis is no stranger to fraud, as her former friend Katie Vanderwende told OC Weekly.

“The thing you need to realize [about Bemis] is she’s a chameleon,” Vanderwende told the Weekly. “She’s a master,” she added. “Manipulating five different people with five different stories and keeping them all straight. She’s very confident and convincing.”

Read Vanderwende’s story here.

Although initial reports claimed Bemis swindled $11,000 from her kind–hearted victims, police now report that Bemis stole $2000 in cash, clothing and supplies from local businesses and individuals.

Bemis was sentenced to 177 days in county jail, three days of CalTrans work, and three years formal probation. She must also pay full restitution, not post or use social media, and receive approval from a probation officer before taking a job around kids under 18. Additionally, she must undergo court–ordered counseling throughout her probationary period.

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