Suspect identified

Man suspected of stealing thousands to face new charges

The man suspected of stealing thousands of dollars in merchandise from Kmart will face additional charges, including criminal impersonation, after Craig Police discovered he gave them a phony name, Lt. John Forgay said Monday.

Following the suspect's arrest last week, police "tentatively identified" the man as Juan Montoya-Carbajal, 44. Police now say the man in custody is Ambrocio Nunez Estrada, 45.

Estrada was advised of his rights in Moffat County Court Monday. Judge Mary Lynne James anticipated advising him of his formal charges, but the District Attorney's office has not yet charged him.

Confusion about Estrada's identity delayed the process, Chief Deputy District Attorney Dave Waite told the court Monday. Charges would be filed Tuesday morning, Waite said.

James set Estrada's bond at $50,000, the amount Waite asked for.

James explained to Estrada, through an interpreter, that he faces two problems. One is the serious case being built against him in Moffat County, and the other is potential federal charges for reentering the country after being a previously deported felon.

Suspicions about Estrada's identity arose when police checked his green card.

"The documents he had were questionable," Forgay said. "We checked the green card through Denver and found it to be a counterfeit."

Police ran Estrada's prints through an FBI database to find his true identity. While the identification is more certain now, Forgay admits it's been difficult to pin down the name when police found "about 12 aliases involving this person."

It's a common problem police face when trying to identify foreigners.

"It gets real tricky trying to trace who they really are," Forgay said.

Records show Estrada was deported in 2000, which leads police to suspect "he's illegally back in the country," Forgay said.

Estrada was arrested Tuesay after police searched his home and found an estimated $15,000 to $25,000 in merchandise suspected stolen from Kmart. Police also found small packages of a substance they believe to be cocaine.

Estrada worked for Kmart as a night janitor cleaning floors. Police said video surveillance equipment showed Estrada stealing from the store.

The search for Estrada's identity also uncovered a previous criminal history, which Forgay said sheds some light on the current case.

Police continue to investigate the case, looking for other suspects.

"He did have roomates," Forgay said. "We're not sure if they're involved, but it appears some merchandise was sent out of state and out of country."

The detective said that implies there was "someone on the receiving end."

Police continue the time-consuming process of documenting the allegedly stolen items. They are working with Kmart to establish a more accurate figure for the merchandise.

It may never be known how much was taken.

"We have no idea how much was boxed up and sent away," Forgay said.

Forgay worked as a loss-prevention officer for J.C. Penny in Texas, and he's familiar with the difficulties faced by companies after monumental losses.

It's often difficult to verify the dollar-amount of the losses. It's difficult to collect restitution from a thief in prison. Since Estrada faces deportation, restitution seems unlikely even if he is found guilty.

"If he were to be deported back, you can pretty well write that (restitution) off," Forgay said.

Companies plan ahead for the losses, expecting a certain percentage of their products will be stolen. The companies have to account for thefts, and "unfortunately, it comes right back to us as consumers," Forgay said.

Jeremy Browning can be reached at 824-7031 or jbrowning@craigdailypress.com

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