Police in East Palestine say Melissa Blake submitted receipts to the railroad’s assistance center, claiming to be living at a residence on North Market Street in the village at the time of the February 3 train derailment. They accuse Blake of claiming had to leave and stay elsewhere.
Police also said Blake gave an interview to “Cleveland Magazine” claiming to have moved into the North Market Street apartment the night before the derailment, which was false. Detectives said when they interviewed Blake, she admitted making up the story. Because Blake did not live in the village, she was never eligible for assistance.
Police said Blake still managed to collect nearly $20,000 from the railroad.
Blake is charged with falsification, theft by deception, and forgery. She’s due back in court in December.