Vanderbilt woman gets 500 phones, saddles in rodeo fraud
PITTSBURGH – A Fayette County woman impersonated a rodeo star and set up a sham company to obtain 500 cellphones and $8,000 in saddles, according to her federal court plea Wednesday.
Susan Rowan, 39, of Vanderbilt, also hoped to meet men by pretending to be world champion barrel racer Sherry Cervi, prosecutors said.
Rowan ordered the cellphones from Sprint Communications, causing the company $430,000 in losses, authorities said. And she used Cervi’s name to meet men and to obtain two custom saddles, they said.
Rowan told Sprint “that she was a wealthy rodeo star with a business interest” and employees in need of cellphones, Assistant U.S. Attorney James Kitchen said. She ordered about 700 phones from July 2008 to February 2010, and received more than 500, he said.
When confronted by a Sprint investigator, she gave phones to friends and relatives and burned many more in a field, Kitchen said.
Public defender Linda E.J. Cohn disputed the prosecution’s loss totals and some other details, but otherwise declined comment after the hearing. Rowan is free on bail until her scheduled July 2 sentencing.
Cervi, an Arizona native, is a two-time world champion racer and 11-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier, according to published reports.