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Hollister
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June 27, 2022

Police arrest couple for identity theft and forgery

Two Hollister residents were arrested on multiple forgery
charges after police served a search warrant, discovered notebooks
listing residents’ names, addresses and bank account numbers and
found the two hiding under a mobile home trailer naked.
Hollister – Two Hollister residents were arrested on multiple forgery charges after police served a search warrant, discovered notebooks listing residents’ names, addresses and bank account numbers and found the two hiding under a mobile home trailer naked.

Officers with the Hollister Police Department and deputies from the San Benito County Sheriff’s Department served a search warrant at the home of Michael Quiroz and Sandra Gardner at 117 Peartree Lane after a lengthy investigation into check fraud, identity theft and credit card theft led them to the suspects, said sheriff’s Lt. Pat Turturici.

Police found checks made out to the suspects in differing amounts, including two checks made out to Gardner in the name of Trinity Lutheran Church for $1,400 each, he said. They also found other Internet transactions under residents’ names for a Sony PlayStation, cell phones, video games and a super pocket bike worth over $600, Turturici said.

“Half the town got victimized here,” he said.

Turturici said the Hollister Police Department initiated an investigation after several residents informed them that they had received bank statements with substantial amounts of money missing, or credit card statements with charges they had never made.

When police had enough information to arrest the couple, they went to the home and found a laptop and CD-ROM’s used to manage finances, checks made out to Quiroz and Gardner in the names of multiple Hollister residents and businesses, and a hand-held radio used by city police and fire personnel, Turturici said.

Most of the checks were of the same style and color, leading police to believe they were fake, but Turturici said stolen checks, mail and credit cards were also found.

Police went to the mobile home on Dec. 30, and heard people running inside the home after they announced themselves, he said. Deputies kicked in the door when no one answered and found a board on the floor of the bedroom that was used as a type of trap door to get under the house, Green said.

Police found the two suspects, naked, hiding under the house and ordered them out. After they got out and were given blankets to cover themselves, a deputy crawled under the house and found methamphetamine pipes and a bag of meth where Quiroz was hiding, Turturici said.

The total amount of money the couple defrauded Hollister residents of is unknown. There are at least eight victims and possibly more, but Turturici said police haven’t notified all the victims yet. Many of their names, addresses, bank account numbers, phone numbers and other personal information were detailed in two notebooks, he said.

Quiroz was charged with possession of methamphetamine for sale, conspiracy to defraud someone, forgery, possession of forged checks and impersonating someone to get money, all felonies. He was also charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and resisting arrest, which are misdemeanors.

Gardner was charged with receiving stolen property, conspiracy to commit a crime, possession of drugs for sale, forgery, possession of forged checks, passing fictitious checks and impersonating someone else to get money – all felonies. She was also charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and resisting arrest, misdemeanors.

Both are in custody at the San Benito County Jail.

Deputy Mike Mull, who recently transferred to the sheriff’s department from the police department, was working the case for Hollister police and carried it over to the sheriff’s department when he left, said sheriff’s Detective Chris Green.

“It’s kind of an unorthodox situation,” he said, “but we handled it as a joint unit.”

Erin Musgrave covers public safety for the Free Lance. Reach her at 637-5566, ext. 336 or [email protected]

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