Bobbi Ann Finley, the so-called "Military Mistress" accused of bilking servicemen across the nation, was released from an Alabama prison this week.
Her freedom was short-lived.
Two Pierce County sheriff's detectives met her at the prison gates and arrested her on a 2011 warrant charging her with theft for allegedly persuading a local woman to cash bad checks for her, sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer said Wednesday.
They booked her into the Pierce County Jail on Tuesday, and Wednesday she appeared in Superior Court, where she was formally charged with second-degree theft. A not-guilty plea was entered on her behalf, and Court Commissioner Meagan Foley ordered her jailed in lieu of $200,000 bail.
Finley, 37, hadn't been assigned a public defender as of Wednesday afternoon.
The Sheriff's Department went to the trouble to fetch Finley from Alabama because she is a notorious con artist who allegedly preys on service members, Troyer said. She lived in Pierce County for a time and might have victimized people here, he said.
"She's drained bank accounts. She's pretended she's in the military. She's had kids by guys who don't even know they're dads," Troyer said. "She's multidimensional. We didn't want five more victims."
Anyone who thinks he or she might have been victimized by Finley should call the Sheriff's Department, Troyer said.
Finley is alleged to have married 14 times over the years and borne as many as nine children, according to the Pierce County Prosecutor's Office. Authorities suspect she's operated in 14 states, including Washington. She is thought to have lived in the Buckley area and Kitsap County, where she has a criminal conviction from 2007.
"Ms. Finley has been a prolific and remorseless con artist," Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said, "but now the jig is up."
Finley was the subject of an investigation by ABC's "20/20" program in 2010. She told co-anchor Chris Cuomo she was the victim of a tough upbringing.
"I wasn't running a con," Finley told Cuomo. "I wanted protection, the protection I should have had growing up. ... I married these guys I couldn't love."
She was convicted of a count of theft by deception in Alabama in 2011 and sentenced to a prison term, ABC News reported in 2011.
In the Pierce County case, she's accused of posing as a U.S. Marine in 2009 and befriending a local woman.
Finley told the woman she had just returned from Iraq and that local banks would not cash her checks, court records state. Finley allegedly persuaded the woman to deposit personal checks into the alleged victim's bank account, then withdraw cash for Finley.
Prosecutors said the cashed checks totaled $2,455. Problem was, the checks were for closed accounts, the records show.
Prosecutors charged Finley in 2011 and a warrant was issued for her arrest when she didn't show up for court, records show.