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Couple Charged with Duping Mentally Impaired

December 7, 2018

LEOMINSTER -- A Fitchburg couple who worked at the Mall at Whitney Field were arraigned in District Court Wednesday after investigators say they allegedly convinced two mentally-handicapped men to rack up thousands of dollars in credit card charges.

Tracy and Shaun Barnjum of 76 East St., Fitchburg, face two counts each on charges of conspiracy and larceny over $250 from a disabled person.

According to police, one of the mentally-disabled men told an officer in August he thought he was being used as he had been making thousands of dollars of purchases since meeting Tracy and Shaun Barnjum.

The case was originally marked as a civil case, but further investigated when the man approached a different officer about a week-and-a-half later, according to police reports.

The man reporting the incident said he met Shaun Barnjum, 38, who worked at Wild Life Express, the animal ride kiosk, near the end of July, according to the police report.

Over the following two to three weeks police say the man was allegedly tricked by the Barnjums into opening store credit card accounts and purchasing $4,951 of goods benefiting the couple. The alleged victim also moved into the Barnjums house for three days and discussed making them the payee for his Social Security checks, according to police reports.

Another mentally-disabled man purchased $4,384 of items under the couple’s advisement, including a $3,846 necklace, police said.

When contacted by police, Shaun Barnjum told them he purchased the necklace from the man for $300 then sold it for $575, claiming he did not know the true cost, according to the police report. An employee at Gold Buyers, which purchased the necklace, said Shaun Barnjum brought in the receipt for the necklace while negotiating for a higher price, police said.

Both men purchased items from Kay Jewelers, where 36-year-old Tracy Barnjum worked and conducted the sale, according to police reports.

Shaun Barnjum told police he was trying to help the two men.

When first confronted by police, they said the victim they were discussing knew he had to pay for the purchases and they returned most of the items, according to a police report.

According to the reports, Shaun Barnjum allegedly sent a third man with more severe mental impairment to his wife at Kay Jewelers. She asked him his date of birth and Social Security number, and the man said he did not know the latter.

Both Barnjums were released on personal recognizance. Their next court date is Jan. 30.

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