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Kent man pleads not guilty to theft charge from woman he met online

A 24-year-old Kent man pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a first-degree theft charge for reportedly taking $8,500 in cash from a woman he met through an online dating service.

Efrem Addisu Menegesha entered the not guilty plea in King County Superior Court, according to the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office. He is scheduled to return to court Jan. 28 when a trial date could be set or attorneys could ask for more time to prepare the case.

Menegesha allegedly set up a Bellevue woman he met through an online dating service to steal cash from her for a trip to Las Vegas and a move to Florida.

King County prosecutors charged Menegesha on Dec. 31 with first-degree theft for reportedly taking $8,500 from the woman in September after the two had dated throughout the summer and planned to move to Florida, according to charging papers..

The woman told Bellevue Police she met a man named Josh on the dating website PlentyOfFish.com. They saw each other about every other day last summer. Near the end of summer, he told her he was going to sell his car and use the proceeds for a trip to Las Vegas and then move back to Florida.

They discussed going together and on Sept. 6 the woman said she withdrew all of her savings and gave notice to her employer. The evening of Sept. 6 Menegesha reportedly came to the woman's apartment and took the cash out of her purse when she visited with her female roommate outside. Menegesha then left the apartment.

The woman had told Menegesha she would pay her way to Florida and Las Vegas. She texted him Sept. 6 that she had withdrawn the money. She told police she was embarrassed about the incident and that she fell for the man.

The woman told police she had a Styrofoam cup that the man had touched at their dinner on Sept. 6. Police ran the cup for prints and got a print that matched Menegesha. Kent Police had arrested the man in 2011 after a traffic violation for possession of a marijuana pipe.

 

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