WESTERLY — A Coventry woman is facing charges after the police said she failed to return a rental car to Enterprise, then reported the car as missing to a Connecticut law enforcement agency nearly two weeks later.
The woman, Margaret A. Musitano, 27, was charged on the strength of bench warrant Tuesday after an unrelated traffic stop by the Rhode Island State Police. She was charged with misdemeanor obtaining an vehicle with the intent to defraud and issued a summons to appear in Fourth Division District Court for arraignment later this month.
Westerly Police Chief Shawn Lacey said the charge stems from an investigation into the possible theft of a 2018 Hyundai on July 24 from the Enterprise Rent-A-Car on East Avenue. He said the company contacted police on Sept. 3 after Musitano had not returned the car, which was due back to Enterprise by Aug. 16.
"The company attempted to charge the late fees within the rental agreement to her credit card on Aug. 28, but the card was rejected," Lacey said.
Westerly police called Musitano and asked why she had not returned the car. Lacey said she told officers that she reported it stolen to police in Vernon, Conn., on Aug. 30.
The Vernon police verified that Musitano had contacted the department to report the car as missing. According to police, Musitano "did not want to report it as stolen" and told a Vernon officer that "she no longer had it." Lacey said he wouldn't elaborate on that statement when questioned by Vernon and Westerly officers.
Lacey said that based on the circumstances, it was determined that she had violated state law by not returning the vehicle. Under Rhode Island law, "the failure to return the motor vehicle within seventy-two (72) hours of the time agreed shall be prima facie evidence of fraudulent intent and the vehicle shall be considered 'stolen' for purposes of reporting the offense to the local police."
Westerly police obtained a warrant in September, and she was charged after the Tuesday traffic stop.
Lacey said the car has not been recovered and the investigation is still considered active.