Created on Saturday, 08 December 2012 Written by JOE MANDAK,Associated Press
PITTSBURGH (AP) — A woman wanted on charges she pretended to be the abused wife of a Pittsburgh police officer so she could stay at a battered women's shelter is now jailed in Ohio on similar charges — this time claiming she was abused by a Columbus policeman.
In both cases, authorities contend, the officers didn't exist and the abuse never happened, but shelter officials in both states learned that only after 33-year-old Amy Slanina benefited from weeks of free food and shelter.
The Associated Press reported earlier this year that Slanina also has a history in several states of scamming female lovers, their families and others into showering her with attention and money by pretending to be pregnant — and claiming she wants them to help raise or adopt her baby. Ashland, Ohio, police Chief David Marcelli said Slanina had already contacted at least two women who hoped to adopt yet another fictional child while she was staying at the Ohio women's shelter.
"She's a real piece of work," Marcelli told the AP.
"Basically, it's the same scam she's been running. She takes advantage of the confidentiality policies that these domestic violence shelters have, knowing they won't press her for information, and she'll get a free place to stay," he said.
Greg Tarkowsky, Slanina's court-appointed Ohio attorney, said he hasn't met with her yet and can't comment. Her attorney in Pennsylvania didn't return a call seeking comment.
Slanina's bogus abuse story first landed her in Franklin County, Ohio — home to the state capitol of Columbus — but she was moved to Ashland's Safe Haven shelter, about 70 miles away, in October so her "abusive" husband couldn't find her, authorities said.
Police said Slanina told one lie too many when she called them about getting a restraining order against the Columbus cop — only to have Ashland police discover he didn't exist, authorities said.
When Ashland police went to question her Nov. 28, she pretended she had to let her dog out — a service dog she claimed was trained to detect and help her when she was stricken with seizures. Instead, Slanina stepped outside the shelter and never returned, but police found her two days later living at the Ashland residence of someone she met through the shelter.
Slanina remains charged with theft of services for staying at the Helping All Victims in Need, or HAVIN, shelter in Kittanning, about 35 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, from Dec. 4-30, 2011. That stay unraveled when Slanina was arrested on charges that she conned an Idaho couple into believing she was pregnant and persuaded them to fly to Pennsylvania to adopt her newborn.
Kittanning police withdrew the adoption-related charge because, in Pennsylvania, her adoption tale wasn't a crime because no money changed hands. She was supposed to stand trial in September for the shelter-related theft charge, but she never returned after she was released from an Ohio women's prison in August where she spent a couple of months on a parole violation for an unrelated scam in Knox County.
Slanina will be presented with an indictment Monday on two counts of identity fraud and three counts of falsification to police stemming from her latest shelter stay, Ashland County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Paul Lang said.
The identity fraud charges carry up to a year in prison and stem from allegations she used a fake Social Security number. The falsification charges carry up to six months in jail each for purported lies Slanina told to Ohio police, Lang said.
She remained in the Ashland County Jail on Friday, unable to post bond, and she could remain there for a while.
Lang said Slanina's history "certainly affects what we ask for in the way of bond because it shows she's a flight risk and that she's done this before."