A Milwaukee man showed a little bit of his generous side in a purchase he made at an East Side drug store.
While he was charging $143.29 worth of cigarettes and candy to a credit card, the clerk asked whether he'd like to make a $1 donation to the American Diabetes Society.
Sure, he said, why not? It wasn't like it was his money. The credit card he was using was stolen from a woman in Wauwatosa, police say.
Vincent Jerome Reed, 49, has been charged in Milwaukee County Circuit Court with felony fraud in making multiple purchases and attempting several more on Nov. 24 with the purloined card. If convicted, he faces up to six years in prison.
According to the criminal complaint:
On Nov. 26, a woman came to the Wauwatosa police station to report a theft. She told officers she'd had lunch at McDonald's at 12324 W. North Ave. and forgot her purse, leaving it on her table.
When she recovered it, her wallet was missing, along with its contents including a Discover card. When she called the company to report the card missing, her account showed purchases on Nov. 24 that she had not made.
She gave police the information on five unautorized uses of the card, two of which were declined.
Police went to CVS Pharmacy at 2950 N. Oakland Ave. in Milwaukee, where one purchase was made, and asked for more details on the transaction and any video surveillance footage available.
The video showed a man and woman at the counter at the time of the offense. The record of the transaction showed that the purchase consisted of two cartons of cigarettes, two candy bars, and a $1 donation to charity.
To make sure it was not an automatic donation made by CVS on the purchase, Wauwatosa Patch called the store, where an employee assured that, no, the donation was purely voluntary on the part of the customer.
"We would ask at the time of the sale whether you would like to make a donation," he said. "It's entirely up to the customer."
The card was also used to buy $175.51 worth of merchandise at an East Side CVS Pharmacy and to buy a tank of gas at a Petro Mart on West Center Street just outside Wauwatosa.
Detectives were able to track Reed down – the complaint does not say how – and upon questioning, he admitted he had been at the McDonald's and had stolen the wallet after he noticed the woman had left her purse behind. He also confessed to being party to all the purchases and attempted purchases on the victim's card.
He said that other than the gas, the other purchases went to the favor of the woman he had been with. But, he said, he couldn't lead police to her because he had picked her up on the street somewhere between the Petro Mart and the Walgreens and had used the card to buy her favors.
He also admitted, somewhat ruefully we imagine, that he ended up getting nothing from her in return for his charity.