Woman who impersonated rodeo star gets probation, house arrest

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Susan Rowan told a judge Wednesday that she has been "hiding in [her] home" due to embarrassment since prosecutors accused her of impersonating a rodeo star to get more than 700 cell phones, several saddles and the attentions of three men.

U.S. District Judge David Cercone responded by giving her 15 months of house arrest as part of a five-year probationary sentence.

Rowan, 40, of the Fayette County town of Vanderbilt, pleaded guilty in March to five counts of mail fraud. For nearly two years she told others she was famed barrel racer Sherry Cervi, or her representative, even claiming to run a fictitious company called Hanson Industries to convince Sprint to send her 711 cell phones.

She only used 10 of the phones, according to pre-sentence filings. She eventually returned nearly 200 to a store and burned many in a field.

Saddle maker J.R. Winger sent Rowan samples of his workmanship with the understanding that they would appear in rodeos. Three men she courted online traveled to the Pittsburgh area to meet Ms. Cervi -- who actually hails from Arizona -- only to find Rowan.

"This case is aggravated because of the fact that there is no rhyme, there is no reason, this was just disturbing behavior without a purpose," said Assistant U.S. Attorney James Kitchen. He argued that Rowan should serve 15 to 21 months in prison, as suggested by federal guidelines.

Rowan apologized but did not explain her behavior to Judge David Cercone or to reporters after the hearing.

"I have learned from my mistakes and have since retained employment," she said, adding that she is taking care of her elderly parents. She said she was fired by two employers and ostracized in her small hometown.

Judge Cercone said that he sentenced Rowan to probation, during which she can work and pay 10 percent of her earnings in restitution, "rather than have the taxpayers foot the bill for feeding and clothing and housing the defendant for 15 months."

She must pay $156,857 to Sprint and $8,000 to J.R. Winger.

mobilehome - breaking - region

Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1542 or Twitter @richelord First Published September 4, 2013 12:15 AM


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