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One of Central Virginia's most arrested women back in court

The frequently arrested woman whose false rape allegations about a local grocery store manager cost him more than two years behind bars has been arrested again.

Buckingham County Circuit Court records show that 31-year-old Chelsea Eileen Steiniger has been charged with more than 20 offenses and held without bail.

Transported last month to Albemarle County General District Court to resolve several other criminal cases, Steiniger appeared jovial despite her handcuffs and leg irons standing before Judge Matthew Quatrara. He found her guilty of the Albemarle charges, which included contempt and check larceny, but imposed suspended sentences on most of them. The judge did, however, assign her 30 days on a charge of driving under the influence.

"This is an exceptional outcome that you’re getting," Quatrara told Steiniger during the Oct. 17 hearing.

With 63 arrests, according to a state database, Steiniger is one of the most often arrested people in Central Virginia. One of her recent convictions involved the theft of a nurse’s scooter from University of Virginia Medical Center. In February, Charlottesville General District Court Judge Andrew Sneathern accepted her guilty plea to that caught-on-video crime, but he assigned no active jail time and gave her a year to pay restitution to the nurse.

The most extensive criminal case involving Steiniger positioned her as the supposed victim. That was her 2012 claim that she was abducted by a local man who gave her a ride in his car. Mark Lawrence Weiner served more than two years in jail before winning release in 2015 after sworn defense evidence portrayed Steiniger as a fabulist who concocted a tale of rape inside an abandoned house to anger a boyfriend.

Five years ago, federal Judge Norman K. Moon branded Steiniger’s testimony "false," but she has never been prosecuted for any crime pertaining to her allegations. Moon dismissed Weiner’s wrongful prosecution suit on the basis that government employees cannot be sued.

While Steiniger’s current slate of 21 charges in Buckingham include allegations of identify theft, trading in stolen goods and entering a house to commit assault and battery, many of her current and past charges also involve drugs.

"Ms. Steiniger," asked Quatrara at her recent hearing, "what is the longest period you’ve been drug-free?"

"Six months," she answered.

"I’m happy to see you alive," said the judge. "When I didn’t see you for a long time, I was concerned that your issues had gotten the best of you and that I was going to read your obituary in the newspaper."

Quatrara seemed intrigued by Steiniger’s assertion that she onced thrive while working in construction and living with her mother on the Eastern Shore.

"Why don’t you go there?" he asked

Her answer, if any, was not audible in the Albemarle County General District courtroom.

"Her number of arrests exceed those of anyone else that I’ve ever heard of," veteran Charlottesville lawyer Scott Goodman told The Daily Progress.

Goodman said that people eventually "grow out" of committing crimes, but until then the justice system gets clogged by the crimes of drug addicts.

"It’s become a philosophy that you don’t want to put someone in prison for a low-level, low-dollar-amount crime," Goodman said. "It’s basically treated as a sickness as much as it is a crime these days. If you show any kind of an effort that you’re trying to overcome your addiction, that goes a long way with the courts."

Now held at Piedmont Regional Jail in Farmville, Steiniger has her next hearing slated for Jan. 22 in Buckingham Circuit Court.


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