Suspect in donation jar theft held without bail

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — A New Bedford woman charged with stealing money meant for a young cancer patient appeared before a judge Wednesday.

Veronica Mello turned herself in to police Tuesday after surveillance footage of the theft was posted on social media. Investigators had a warrant out for Mello’s arrest after they were tipped off by her sister.

Mello, 32, and a second woman are accused of swiping a donation jar from Mark’s Beverage on Country Street last Wednesday.

Prosecutors said the clerk turned his back to the counter to make a lottery transaction, and when he returned – the jar was gone.

Surveillance photo of the two suspects.
Surveillance photo of the two suspects.

“According to the clerk, the jar contained approximately $125 in assorted change and bills and it was donations made by customers for a 4-year-old female with leukemia,” said Assistant District Attorney Peter Pawelczyk in court. “The donations were to help the mother who had to quit her job in order to tend to the daughter’s full time needs. The clerk stated the donations jar was with a picture of the 4-year-old Haylie hanging above it.”

Mello was ordered held without bail for a probation violation. She’s due back in court Thursday afternoon.

Police are still working to track down the second suspect, seen in surveillance video wearing a winter hat, grey sweatshirt and a backpack.

Anyone with information about her identity or her whereabouts is asked to contact Det. Barry Pacheco at (508) 991-6300 ext. 133 or leave an anonymous tip at (508) 961-4584.

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