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Duo suspected of pilfering from grandma

By MARY BROWNFIELD

Published: Sept. 24, 2010

OVER THE course of nearly a month, a Pebble Beach man and his female accomplice allegedly stole more than $12,000 from his step-grandmother, who lives in Texas.

They used her personal information to obtain credit cards and access to her bank accounts, according to Monterey County Sheriff’s Cmdr. Tracy Brown.

Theodore Lopez and Pacific Grove resident Amanda Spears, both 22, were arrested Sunday on charges of elder abuse, identity theft, burglary, grand theft and conspiracy, and taken to Monterey County Jail.

The crimes came to light after Lopez’ father and stepmother, with whom he lives on Forest Lodge Road, began receiving statements for credit cards in the name of the grandmother, 85-year-old Nita Fallis, Brown said. They also noticed numerous withdrawals from Fallis’ checking and savings accounts.

But Fallis “is in an extended care home in Texas,” Brown said, while Lopez and his parents live in the home she owns in Pebble Beach. After receiving the suspicious credit-card and bank statements, the suspect’s parents notified authorities the afternoon of Sept. 13.

Lopez and Spears, who lives on 19th Street in Pacific Grove, are both unemployed, according to the sheriff’s office, and Brown said they used Fallis’ personal information to obtain three credit cards, with which they purchased telephones, videogame players and games, and laptop computers from local businesses.

He said they also used Fallis’ stolen personal information to gain access to her checking and savings accounts.

“Lopez and Spears then, over 13 separate incidents, removed money from the victim’s checking and savings accounts,” deputy Ivan

Rodriguez wrote in his report. “Each time they removed money, it was for either $400 or more.”
They allegedly used some of the cash to make a down payment on a black 1999 Volkswagen Jetta, which the sheriff’s office later seized as evidence.

Rodriguez estimated the pair stole more than $12,000, but Brown said the deputy has a lot more research to do before he makes a final tally.

“There’s still a lot more information to get from the bank statements and credit cards,” he said.

After Rodriguez identified the suspects, deputies arrested Lopez in Marina and Spears in Pacific Grove, and booked them in to Monterey County Jail. While Monterey County Superior Court records indicate this is the first local case against Lopez, Spears appears in multiple files, including numerous traffic violations, two misdemeanor cases filed in June and September of 2009, and a lawsuit she filed Sept. 7 of this year.