BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Bethlehem police helped authorities in Texas apprehend four suspects who are accused of tricking an elderly man into sending thousands of dollars to a Pawnee Street address under the guise of helping his grandson out of legal trouble.
Bethlehem police on Monday arrested:
- Guillermo Fanjul , 29, of Bronx, N.Y.;
- Christian P. Santana, 28, of Palisades Park, N.J.;
- Reynaldo J. Garcia-Martinez, 22, of Bronx, N.Y., and;
- Dariel Abreu-Jose, 24, of New York, N.Y.
Authorities arrested the four men after allegedly receiving a package outside a home in the 400 block of Pawnee Street that was supposed to contain $14,000. Each man faces a single felony count of conspiracy to commit theft by deception.
On March 6, a detective with the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office in Texas contacted the Bethlehem Police Department for help in an ongoing investigation involving an elderly man being targeted for a scam.
The victim initially reported to investigators in Texas that he received a phone call in late February from someone identifying himself as the man’s grandson. The caller said he was in jail on a DUI arrest and needed $6,100 to post bail, according to court records.
The caller told the victim that his attorney would call shortly for instructions on how to deliver the money. Someone identifying himself as the grandson’s attorney called back an hour later from the same phone number and told the victim to overnight $6,100 via FedEx to an address in the 400 block of Pawnee Street in Bethlehem.
He sent the money.
The victim called the number on March 7 and spoke with the man purporting to be his grandson’s attorney. This time, the victim was told that his grandson had struck a pregnant woman killing her unborn child and that another $14,000 was needed for his release, according to records.
The caller instructed the victim to send the money to the same Pawnee Street address and provide him with a tracking number for the package.
Bethlehem police said a U.S. Postal inspector arranged to deliver a package reported to contain $14,000 to the Pawnee Street home. As the inspector arrived at the address shortly before noon on Monday, Garcia-Martinez emerged from a nearby Chevy Tahoe with New York plates. He provided a Texas identification with the victim’s grandson’s name and signed for the package, according to records.
Police stopped the vehicle about 10 minutes later and found the package and Garcia-Martinez’s three co-defendants inside.
Fanjul told police that he had been sleeping and had no idea his pals had picked up a package. Garcia-Martinez told police that the others asked him to sign for a package he was told contained cell phones.
Santana allegedly gave Garcia-Martinez a cigarette and told him to stand outside the house to smoke, so the mailman wouldn’t try to go into the home to make the delivery, according to records.
Garcia-Martinez told police that Fanjul opened the package and became upset. Santana told police he had nothing to do with the package and said it was Abreu-Jose who opened it. Abreu-Jose invoked his right to an attorney and refused to answer any questions, according to police.
It's not clear from court records why the men allegedly had the money sent to the Pawnee Street address.
District Judge Alicia Zito arraigned the quartet Monday night, setting bail for Fanjul and Santana at $35,000. They failed to post bail and remain in Northampton County Prison.
The judge set bail for Abreu-Jose at $35,000 with a 10 percent cash option. He was released from Northampton County Prison on Tuesday after someone posted $3,500 cash on his behalf.
Bail was set for Garcia-Martinez at $15,000 with a 10 percent cash option. He was released from county prison Tuesday after someone posted $1,500 cash on his behalf. All four are due in court for preliminary hearings tentatively scheduled for March 27.
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