Crime

Gaston woman who ‘disappeared’ at beach sentenced to prison

A Gaston County woman whose “disappearance” at North Myrtle Beach this past summer touched off a three-day Coast Guard and police search has been sentenced to at least nine years in prison after pleading guilty in a Mecklenburg County courtroom to identity theft, being a habitual felon, and other offenses.

Judge Yvonne Mims Evans sentenced Amy Robinson, 43, to between nine years and 11 years and 10 months in prison.

Robinson was due in court during July in Mecklenburg County on identity theft and other charges, but she was reported missing July 5 by her husband, Paul David Arrington. He told authorities he saw his wife on the beach and then could not find her after leaving and returning a few minutes later.

Under the theory that Amy Robinson might have entered the water and drowned, the Coast Guard and other emergency organizations began searching for her. After a few days, authorities said they were convinced the woman had not drowned and was not missing.

Amy Robinson turned herself in to Mecklenburg County authorities a few days later, and Arrington was charged by South Carolina authorities in connection with the missing-person report.

In court Tuesday, Robinson pleaded guilty to identity theft, forgery, uttering a forged instrument, five counts of obtaining property by false pretense, and being a habitual felon.

She had been scheduled for trial Nov. 3.

According to prosecutors, Robinson befriended the identity theft victim in 2012. The friend loaned Robinson money but eventually told her she would not give her any more. Prosecutors alleged Robinson then forged one of the victim’s checks and cashed it for $500. Robinson also was accused of paying credit card and utility bills and making purchases on Amazon.com, using bank information of the friend.

Thousands of dollars were spent in those transactions, prosecutors said.

Court records show Robinson had previous convictions for obtaining a controlled substance by fraud and multiple counts of obtaining property by false pretenses.

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