Clovis man found guilty of identity theft

By Tony Parra: Freedom Newspapers

Ricardo Mendez, 37, of Clovis was found guilty of accessing a computer with the intent to commit a crime and two counts of theft identity on Friday by 9th Judicial District Judge Joe Parker.

District Attorney Brett Carter said Mendez was placed on adult probation for four years.

Mendez and Julia Tapia, 49, of Portales were accused of stealing $2,900 from fraudulent accounts. Mendez and Tapia were employees of the Portales Income Support Division.

Tapia’s case is still pending, Carter said.

Neither Mendez nor his attorney, Michael Garrett, could be reached for comment.

“It (probation) is a pretty standard sentence for someone who receives their first felony and based on the fact all of the money was recovered,” Carter said. “The main thing is it led to the income support division having more internal control. It was pretty easy for two employees to create a bank account.”

In an Aug. 4, 2003 PNT article, Betina Gonzales McCracken, communications director of New Mexico Human Services Department said the two employees were arrested for attempting to withdraw money from a fraudulent account at an ATM machine on the campus of Eastern New Mexico University.

“Our agents were able to recover all of the money taken from the ATM machine,” Carter said on Friday. “The income support division was not able to provide documentation (for additional money). All of the crimes are based on what was stolen that morning (Aug. 1)”

Carter said on July 30 the district attorney’s office was tipped off by Paul Ritzma, an attorney with the state offices of the Income Support Division in Santa Fe about criminal activity. Carter said on the following Friday, two agents from the district attorney’s office were observed withdrawing $20 bills in the amount of $2,900, using electronic benefits transfer cards.