STONINGTON — Charles Stern, a Rhode Island minister who was recently identified in thefts from YMCAs across the Northeast, including Westerly, is facing additional charges after Stonington police said he was seen in surveillance videos using credit cards stolen from the Mystic YMCA.
Stonington police served a warrant for Stern in late June, charging him with three counts of sixth-degree larceny, one count of third-degree larceny, and three counts of fraudulent use of a stolen credit card. He has not entered a plea.
Stern, 40, a nondenominational minister from Portsmouth, was ordered held in lieu of a $15,000 bond. He is being held at the Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center in Montville.
The local investigation began Oct. 3, when a patron of the Mystic YMCA called to report that his lock was missing and his wallet had been taken from his locker. The wallet contained his driver's license and three credit cards, the police said.
The department received a similar call on Oct. 8, according to the arrest affidavit. The victim reported that credit cards and $100 in cash were taken. The cards were canceled before they were used, the police said.
The three credit cards taken in the earlier theft were used shortly afterward at businesses including a CVS in Mystic and Ledyard Village Market. Officers obtained surveillance videos at each location, noting that Stern had identifiable markings including a tattoo on his left wrist, according to the affidavit.
By this time, Stern had been arrested by Westerly police in connection with thefts from the Ocean Community YMCA on High Street. Similarities between the two cases aided Stonington police in their investigation, the affidavit said.
Westerly police had arrested Stern on Oct. 9 at the Ocean Community YMCA. Staff members called the police after noticing that he had come in claiming to be a member of the YMCA in Toms River, N.J., but returned to the parking lot to a car with Connecticut license plates.
When officers arrived, Stern ran back into the building carrying a duffle bag. The police and the Y staff found him in the locker room and he was taken into custody. Police said he produced an ID card but eventually gave his real name after officers told him they knew the ID had been reported stolen in New Jersey.
An investigation determined that Stern had stolen a key from a YMCA patron and used it to open a car door and take the duffle bag. The police said he was also in possession of the patron’s wallet; it was returned to its owner.
He was also charged in thefts in Narragansett and Middletown following his October arrest, Rhode Island court records showed.
Stern eventually pleaded no contest to one count of larceny under $1,500 in the Westerly case and was sentenced in March to a year in prison, suspended pending completion of a year of probation. He was also ordered to make restitution to victims.
According to Connecticut judicial records, Stern is due back in New London Superior Court on July 10.