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2nd Suspect Charged in Theft of Seniors' Checks

September 06, 2002|JEAN GUCCIONE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The second of three suspects wanted in an alleged scam that involved stealing blank checks from residents of the Los Angeles Jewish Home for the Aging in Reseda and cashing them for thousands of dollars has been arrested, police said Thursday.

John Coley Hatcher, 34, was arrested Aug. 30 near his Panorama City home, authorities said. He pleaded not guilty Tuesday to nine counts of forgery and was being held at Men's Central Jail in lieu of $1.2-million bail.

Last month, Agustina Figueroa, a nurse's aide at the home, pleaded no contest to burglary and was sentenced to two years in state prison, said Deputy. Dist. Atty. William J. Ryder. A judge also ordered the 24-year-old North Hollywood resident to pay $11,890 in restitution.

An arrest warrant has been issued for the third suspect, Francinete Nunez, 32, of Sylmar. She faces 13 counts of forgery.

LAPD Det. Sharon Horan said Figueroa, who worked the night shift, was believed to have stolen checks from residents, all in their 80s and 90s, while they slept. She also is alleged to have copied their signatures from medical charts, Horan said. Figueroa is alleged to have given the blank checks to Nunez in return for money. Between March and August, Horan said, Nunez and Hatcher cashed several checks totaling more than $20,000.

Nunez and Hatcher are alleged to have tried to open a checking account with a $10,000 check that authorities said was stolen from a resident at the home. Other residents of the home have claimed to have noticed unauthorized checks--ranging from $100 to $1,000--written on their accounts, authorities said.

"It is really a sad case," Horan said. "Some of the victims were actually sleeping with their purses."

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