Some heads-up police work led up to the arrest of an Oakdale couple not only for stealing checks from the elderly victim, but scamming Stanislaus County out of thousands of dollars in bogus home supportive care payments.
On Friday, Nov. 18, a 73-year-old male resident in the 900 block of Old Stockton Road reported that a number of his checks had been stolen from the residence and subsequently cashed at a local grocery store.
Oakdale Police Officer Sam Gallego investigated the case and found that the man’s daughter, Keren Ambrosio, 32, of Oakdale, had been forging signatures on more than 15 checks to make purchases at the store as well as get over $2,000 cash back. There was also a $600 cash withdrawal made by Ambrosio from the victim’s account.
Officer Gallego learned through his investigation that Ambrosio was on probation for narcotic crimes and had been evicted from her residence. She was scheduled to return that afternoon within 30 minutes to pick up items. Officer Gallego stood by and saw Ambrosio, with another subject, Joseph Dotinga, 33, of Oakdale drive up and made a traffic stop on their vehicle.
During the contact, Officer Gallego noticed an opened handbag on the car’s console with the victim’s checks visible. When Officer Gallego searched the bag he also discovered store receipts that matched the dates and amounts of cashed forged checks.
With Ambrosio in the back of the patrol car, Dotinga told Officer Gallego that Ambrosio was his wife and they had been using the checks to make small purchases at the grocery store but to also get cash back that they would use to buy heroin and hypodermic needles.
Gallego found several hypodermic needles and syringes in Dotinga’s possession.
Also in the bag were several paycheck receipts and claim forms from Stanislaus County for in-home supportive care for the victim. When Officer Gallego followed up with the victim, he learned Ambrosio was not his care provider and had not given any of the listed care on the documents.
“The pay receipts and claim forms went back about a year and were for about $800 to $900 each,” Officer Gallego said. “We contacted (Stanislaus County) Adult Protective Services who are following up with the victim and the payments.”
Ambrosio was arrested and booked into jail for forgery, financial elder abuse, identity theft and assault on a peace officer. She was being held on $25,000 bail. Dotinga was arrested for conspiracy to commit fraud, possession of drug paraphernalia, and an outstanding arrest warrant. He was being held in lieu of $27,000 bail.
The Oakdale Police Department is still conducting follow-up investigation on this incident.