UPDATED — Texas ring hauled in $1.5 million across 14 states —
Investigators with the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office have uncovered a ring of thieves from Texas that stole checks from 36 churches in Fayette County, and from churches across 14 states. With six now in custody, the checks stolen from Fayette County totaled $162,192, while the total from the multi-state haul was $1.5 million.
Sheriff Barry Babb said the 17 members of the ring drove from Texas to the various locations during the Covid pandemic when fewer people were attending church, where they stole checks from church mailboxes.
Members of the ring would then return to Texas and deposit the checks into their accounts.
From Fayette County alone, the thefts from 36 churches totaled approximately $162,194. From the churches in the 14 states, the total in thefts rose to $1.5 million, said Babb.
Babb said charges have been brought against 17 people, with six currently in custody in Fayette County so far.
Those in custody include:
Mayrelis Rodriguez-Roldan, 32, of Houston, Texas
Jose Leyva-Guerrero, 36, of Tampa, Fla.
Pedro Ramirez-Camillo, 30, of Houston, Texas
Arian Ochoa-Agular, 30, of Houston, Texas
Roberto Toboso-Morodo, 31, of Houston, Texas
Eduardo Antelo-Gonzalez, 35, of Houston, Texas
All those arrested are being held without bond on RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act violations as well as identity fraud and exploitation of an elderly person.
The Fayette churches where the thefts occurred include:
Apostolic Christian Church of Peachtree City
Christ Church at Whitewater
Dogwood Church & Real Life Center
Episcopal Church of the Nativity
Fayette Seventh Day Adventist
Fayetteville Church of Christ
Fayetteville First Baptist
Flat Creek Baptist
Holy Trinity Catholic
Hopewell United Methodist
Inman United Methodist
McDonough Road Baptist
New Beginning Praise & Worship
North Fayette United Methodist
Peachtree City Christian
Peachtree City Church of Christ
Peachtree City First Baptist
Peachtree City United Methodist
Prince of Peace Lutheran
Saint Gabriel / Saint Vincent de Paul
South Fayette Church of Christ
Tyrone First Christian