Man accused of cashing checks stolen in vehicle burglary
A Santa Fe man with a recent history of felony charges is now accused of cashing about $3,000 worth of forged checks from a local construction business that the owner says were stolen during a November auto break-in.
Lonnie Maes, 30, was charged with four felony counts of forgery, according to a criminal complaint filed last week in Santa Fe County Magistrate Court. The document says police identified Maes in surveillance video from a Walmart store where he is suspected of cashing one of the forged checks from Always Construction Services.
Julian Moreno, the owner of Always Construction, had reported to police Nov. 16 that someone had broken into his pickup parked outside Bank of America on Rodeo Road and had stolen a lockbox holding $38,000 in cash. The stolen cash included $14,000 to cover payroll for the company, along with checks and some money for bonuses and Thanksgiving turkeys for his 15 employees, Moreno said.
The recent criminal complaint says Moreno reported that four of the checks were cashed Nov. 20 and 21, for a total of just under $3,000.
Santa Fe police Lt. Paul Joye said Wednesday officers were still investigating whether Maes had any involvement in the vehicle burglary and the theft of the lockbox and cash.
Following a report of Moreno’s misfortune, members of the community stepped in to assist him with donations of cash and turkeys, helping to ensure he could continue a Thanksgiving tradition he started years ago for his workers.
Moreno said Wednesday he was losing hope, however, that he might recover his stolen money and called 2018 a “tough year.”
“I’m just sad about how much crime there is,” Moreno said. “It’s unbelievable.”
According to online court records, Maes was charged with felonies six times in 2018. Maes was ordered to community service in two felony drug cases, court records show. Later, he was charged with burglarizing a residence in August and charged Dec. 6 with auto theft. Those cases are pending. Another felony drug charge also is pending.
Maes was arrested on a warrant Dec. 8 in the car theft case and booked into the Santa Fe County jail. He was released Dec. 10 on an unsecured bond of $2,500, jail records say.
A bench warrant was issued Wednesday for Maes for failure to appear at a court hearing in the car theft case.