HOUSTON - She'll take center stage at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo this week, but before coming to Houston, a famous barrel racer got roped into something else entirely. She became the victim of identity theft.
Sherry Cervi is so popular that one Pennsylvania woman used her name and fame to reportedly score hundreds of cellphones, custom saddles and men.
With cash prizes in the millions, some might assume Cervi would be too busy bolting across the country competing to notice when a woman used her name to open up a phony business and order cellphones in bulk.
Susan Rowan, 39, has pleaded guilty to ordering about 500 cellphones from Sprint. Prosecutors said the phones and usage charges total about $430,000.
"You never saw any of these cell phones or anything?" a reporter asked Rowan's mother when he dropped by her Pennsylvania home.
"I seen them," she answered. "The grandchildren used them, but they were throwed away."
Rowan pleaded guilty in federal court.
Documents from the case show a two-year scheme from 2008 through 2010 where Rowan assumed the identity of Cervi, telling others she was a wealthy prominent rodeo personality.
She even had a two custom saddles made and told the maker in lieu of payment, she would ride them at high-profile events to promote his business.
But the closest thing Rowan will see to a high-profile event is her next court date.
Rowan will be sentenced in Pennsylvania on July 2. She faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
KPRC Local 2 reached out to Cervi through Rodeo Houston. She said she didn't want to talk about this case.
You can catch Cervi on Wednesday in the barrel racing semifinals.
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