BY KEITH LACEY
A woman who hit and seriously injured a Sudbury police officer while escaping a crime scene six years ago is now one of Canada?s most wanted female criminals.
Claudine Liette Bishop, also known as Arlene Bishop, 29, is now wanted by authorities in Canada and the United States in connection with a scam that has seen more than 100 seniors ripped off of their life savings.
RCMP say Bishop is known to be violent and is believed to be hiding in Toronto or Montreal.
The RCMP and United States police have joined police from five other forces in the hunt for the con artist accused of bilking seniors of more than $650,000.
According to a published report in the Toronto Sun, The RCMP and U.S. Homeland Security agents say Bishop regularly changes her appearance and has used at least 17 aliases to avoid being brought in by police.
Bishop is wanted on criminal warrants in Sudbury, Laval, Longeuil, Montreal, Quebec City and several American cities, including Chicago.
In the spring of 1998, Ontario Provincial Court Judge Guy Mahaffy sentenced Bishop to 21 months in jail for her role in a hit and run accident that seriously injured a Sudbury Regional Police officer in 1997.
The sentence was imposed even though Bishop skipped court and failed to show up for her sentencing hearing.
She has never served a single day in jail on that sentence and has yet to be captured by police, who have been searching for her for several years.
Bishop and friend Tanya Siyam were on a major shoplifting binge at the New Sudbury Centre during the daylight hours of May 15, 1997.
A patron at one of the stores in the mall noticed the women were stealing merchandise and reported it to two Sudbury Regional Police officers, who were manning a booth in the mall as part of Sudbury Police Week.
The officers checked out the situation and discovered the women were shoplifting by putting items under their clothes and bringing the merchandise to a car in the parking lot.
When Const. Grant Howard approached the car to place the women under arrest, Bishop took off, even though Howard?s arm was inside the car.
Court heard how Bishop eventually backed up the car and Howard had to roll out of the way to save from being hit head on. He suffered serious injuries.
Accompanied by Siyam, Bishop was behind the wheel when their vehicle took off from the parking lot. Police were soon on their tail and their car was pulled over on Highway 17 near Coniston in a high-risk takedown a short time later.
Howard suffered a badly fractured knee and fractured shoulder, which needed reconstructive surgery. He also needed surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff.
Howard was in hospital for several weeks and was away from work for several months. Further surgery for injuries forced him to miss several more weeks of work in the summer and fall of 1998.
Howard is away from Sudbury on vacation and won?t return back to work until the end of October.
At the sentencing hearing, Mahaffy heard how it was only through good fortune that Howard wasn?t killed because of this incident.
Bishop is wanted by police on both sides of the border on 2001 warrants for her alleged role in a telemarketing scam that preyed on American seniors.
It?s alleged Bishop obtained money from dozens of seniors after informing them they had won a non-existent Canadian lottery.
Police allege over 100 seniors were scammed out of more than $650,000.
?The money is often their entire life savings,? said a police officer in the Toronto Sun article. ?Very few manage to get their money back.?
Police allege some of Bishop?s escapes from arrest have involved ?Bonnie and Clyde? type violence.
Besides the 21-month sentence she still has to serve in relation to the Sudbury incident, Bishop is also wanted in
connection with an armed robbery in Quebec in 1997.
In that violent incident, a clothing store manager was stabbed in the arm while trying to prevent a suspect from fleeing in a getaway car.
Anyone who has more information on Bishop is asked to phone Greater Sudbury Police at 675-9171 or the RCMP at 1-800-771-5401.