Charity Johnson, the 34-year-old Texas woman who masqueraded as a 15-year-old homeless girl who ended up being given free room and board and enrolling as a sophomore in an East Texas high school before her true age and identity were discovered, was sentenced to 85 days in jail earlier this week as part of a plea deal.
Johnson, who went under the false name Charite Stevens in Longview, Texas beginning in the fall of 2013 when she was pretending to be 15, pleaded guilty to “failure to identify“ as part of her plea arrangement with the court, according to a June 10 report from The Huffington Post. Johnson had already been incarcerated for 29 days since her true age and identity were discovered by the Good Samaritan who offered her a place to stay. Johnson was arrested by police in Longview on May 13.
That Good Samaritan, Tamica Lincoln, invited Johnson to stay at her home in Longview when Johnson told her she was only 15 and homeless. Lincoln, acting as Stevens’ guardian, helped Johnson enroll as a sophomore at the New Life Christian School in Longview under her alias, according to USA Today. No-one at the school questioned the identity of the imposter. Johnson told officials there that she had previously been home schooled.
The principal at the school Johnson attended said that while there, "She had good grades," and "She acted like a respectful student and did good work." Personnel and students from the school who came to know Johnson as Stevens were shocked when Johnson was arrested for providing a false identity to police. After Johnson had been living with Lincoln for a while, Lincoln discovered her house guest’s true age and identity and contacted police.
Debra Stiles, a public information officer for the Longview Police Department, said officials were sent to the home on a report of trespassing.
Lincoln wanted Johnson removed from her home, Stiles said, after realizing she was lying about her identity.
Johnson was eventually arrested and jailed on a $500 bond. Police also issued Johnson a trespass warning to help get her out of Lincoln’s apartment, according to ABC News. Principal Newlin told reporters that while in school, Johnson behaved like any normal teenager. Newlin said that tuition at the school is $150 monthly; but there isn’t any penalty if students can’t pay.
Although Johnson, now dubbed by many as a con artist, was sentenced to 85 days in jail, the judge in Longview set her free after serving 29 days behind bars. The judge also fined her $227.