When habitual shopliftinger and state parolee Susan Lee Seely was nabbed for shoplifting yet again at three businesses in Loyalsock Township's Giant Plaza about 5 p.m. Aug. 27, state police had planned to commit the 49-year-old woman to the Lycoming County Prison on a state parole violation.
However, due to overcrowding at the jail, the prison refused to take Seely because they had no space left for women incarcerated as state parole detainees.
Seely was caught in Giant allegedly trying to steal merchandise from the supermarket, police said. She also had in her possession stolen merchandise from the Dollar Tree and Kmart, two other stores in the plaza on East Third Street, police said. The total value of all the merchandise was $29, police said.
She was arrested and processed at the state police barracks in Montoursville, where troopers alerted District Judge Gary A. Whiteman, the overnight duty magistrate.
Since she already was on state parole for shoplifting, the troopers told Whiteman they planned to place her in jail on a 48-hour detainer and file a felony shoplifting charge against her in the next two days.
However, that plan collapsed after prison staff told the police they would not accept Seely "due to overcrowding," the judge said he was told.
So a trooper filed the criminal charge that night against Seely, of 815 W. Fourth St., who still ended up in jail after she was arraigned before Whiteman. She was committed in lieu of $10,000 bail.
Whiteman said that while the jail could refuse to take Seely as a state parole violator, the facility has to find room for individuals who are unable to post bail ordered by a district judge.
"Basically, she becomes the financial responsibility of the county and not the state," Whiteman said.