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East Briefs: 11/21/01

Wednesday, November 21, 2001

Impostor guilty again

A 32-year-old woman was convicted of felony theft and perjury in Vancouver, Wash., for posing as a high school student and obtaining foster care and a taxpayer-funded education.

Jurors returned the verdict against Treva Throneberry in Clark County Superior Court on Monday after 2 1/2 hours of deliberations. Throneberry was found guilty of all seven counts against her.

In 1996, Throneberry, then 27, showed up in Altoona, claiming to be 16-year-old Stephanie Danielle Lewis, a molestation victim on the run from Memphis. But child welfare officials in Blair County cracked the facade and Throneberry spent nine days in jail for giving false reports to police. She also provided investigators her fingerprints, which would later be her undoing in Washington state.

Throneberry represented herself during her five-day trial. She faces up to four years in prison when she is sentenced Nov. 28.

Throneberry, who graduated from Evergreen High School in Vancouver in June 2000, had received a tuition waiver to attend Clark College before she was arrested in March.

Since then, she has undergone a mental evaluation, rejected prosecution plea bargain offers and has gone through two court-appointed defense lawyers. She decided two weeks before trial to defend herself.

Prosecutors said Throneberry had passed herself off as a teen-ager in other states, including Texas and Oregon as well as Pennsylvania.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Mike Kinnie said in a closing statement that Throneberry was seeking attention.

"She thrives on it. She lives on it. It feeds her," he said. "She's been playing this game for 15 years and she's gotten very, very good at it."

Ex-wrestler sentenced

A former Penn State University wrestler convicted of sexually assaulting a university coed in 1999 was sentenced Monday to six to 12 months in Centre County Prison. The penalty left the county district attorney bristling because it fell well under the three- to six-year sentence that's standard for somebody with no prison record.

County Judge Thomas King Kistler decided that Jean Celestin, 22, wouldn't have to go to prison until after his December graduation and would be eligible for work release, but Celestin will remain free pending an appeal of his conviction to state Superior Court.

Last month, jurors in Bellefield cleared Nathaniel Parker, 21, but found Celestin guilty of assaulting the 20-year-old woman, a charge that Celestin steadfastly denied in court yesterday. Eighteen people, from a former wrestling coach to Penn State's assistant vice president of student affairs, wrote to Kistler, vouching for Celestin's character and Celestin insisted to Kistler that the crime "is not within my character."

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