Repairman Charged With Stealing More Than $580K From Laguna Beach Homeowner Who Hired Him

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A maintenance worker is facing nearly 100 felony counts after allegedly using forged checks to steal over $580,000 from a Laguna Beach homeowner who hired him, prosecutors said Thursday.

Tijuana resident Jose Angel Martinez Casillas, 30, was charged Wednesday with 56 counts of forgery and 41 counts of grand theft, along with one count of first-degree residential burglary, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.

Casillas was subsequently arrested Thursday on a warrant, officials said.

Prosecutors allege the repairman used his access to the victim’s home to steal blank checks. Casillas is then accused of stealing $430,000 by forging the homeowner’s name and cashing the checks or depositing them into his own account.

The defendant also allegedly made online Automated Clearing House transactions totaling over $150,000 using the homeowner’s bank information.

Casillas used the money to buy vehicles and pay off personal loans, according to the DA’s office.

The alleged criminal activity lasted about six months, from August 2016 to February 2017, authorities said. The victim noticed the activity in November 2016 and reported it to Laguna Beach police.

Prosecutors are seeking sentencing enhancements for causing more than $200,000 in property damage and aggravated white collar crime over $500,000. They did not specify what the property damage entailed.

The DA’s office also said Casillas was previously convicted of a “serious felony” in Orange in 2011, but did not provide details on the case.

If convicted as charged, the defendant would face a maximum possible sentence of 153 years and four months in state prison.

His arraignment had not yet been scheduled, the DA’s office said.

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