A 30-year-old Taneytown woman was found guilty yesterday of burning her car near Big Pipe Creek in September to collect the insurance money.
In a plea agreement, Laura Lee Bush -- also known as Laura Lee Marsden -- pleaded not guilty but allowed the prosecutor's statement of facts in the car burning and an unrelated theft case to be the only evidence against her.
Prosecutors agreed to drop the remaining charges and a second burglary case against her in exchange for the plea.
According to prosecutors, Bush -- a dancer in a South Baltimore nightclub -- reported to Taneytown Police Chief Melvin Diggs on Sept. 21 that her 1992 Mitsubishi had been stolen from her O'Brien Avenue home.
The burned car was found on Nusbaum Road near Big Pipe Creek.
An investigation by the Maryland State Fire Marshal's office found that an accelerant had been used on the vehicle.
In addition, Bush's neighbors said they saw her and a friend driving the car about 1:30 a.m. the day the car was reported stolen.
Police questioned the friend, who admitted that he helped her burn the car for $1,000 of the insurance money.
A sting operation in which police monitored a phone call and a meeting at the nightclub between Bush and her friend helped officers confirm the information.
In the unrelated theft case, prosecutors said three residents of Crows Court in Westminster reported a number of items, including a $3,000 diamond engagement ring, missing from their apartment May 20, 1995.
After searching Bush's home, police found several Dallas Cowboys plaques that had been reported stolen from the Westminster apartment. When Bush later was arrested, police found her with the diamond engagement ring. Other jewelry, motorcycle helmets and a videocassette recorder were among the property taken from the apartment. It was unclear yesterday whether those items were recovered.
Bush, who will be sentenced for yesterday's convictions April 9, was convicted in August 1993 of marrying a Howard County man in Carroll County while she was married to a man in Baltimore County.
She was sentenced to a six-month suspended sentence and ordered to get counseling in the bigamy case.
Court records and press accounts also show that in 1982, Bush -- then known by her maiden name, Laura Lee Feist -- was convicted in California of second-degree murder in the death of her boyfriend.
Bullet in her shoulder
According to court records, she shot the young man and then turned the gun on herself.
During a hearing to release her from probation in the bigamy case, testimony from a psychologist indicated the bullet is still in Bush's shoulder.
Bush, who was 17 at the time, was sentenced to 17 years in the California Youth Authority for the murder conviction, court records said. She served six years of her sentence, during which she earned a bachelor's degree in psychology, and moved to Maryland soon after.
Before the bigamy conviction, Bush was employed as a counselor at Springfield Hospital Center in Sykesville.
The psychologist's testimony indicated she quit working at the hospital because she found it too stressful.