On June 6th, 2006 Detectives from the Bureau of Criminal Investigations were contacted by a local St. Mary's County banking establishment who advised that over the past several weeks an unknown Hispanic male has been passing stolen United States Treasury Department checks. The majority of the checks were stolen from Houston, Texas, although there were also checks that were stolen from Prince George's County, Maryland. The Suspect(s) would alter the dollar amount on the check increasing the total owed to them. The suspect utilized false identification cards with fictitious names and the suspect's photo. More than $15,000.00 in checks have been identified thus far as being cashed in St. Mary's County and additional checks are expected.
Later that day Detectives were contacted by a local business owner in regards to the stolen/counterfeit checks. Officers were in the immediate area and apprehended the Suspect as he attempted to flee. The suspect was identified as Gonzalo Lopez (Age 44 of No Fixed address Langley Park, Maryland). The Suspect was found to be in the United States illegally from Honduras. Evidence was recovered from the Suspect and the scene. Detectives were assisted by the United States Secret Service, Agent of the Mercantile Bank of Southern Maryland and Agents from the United States Treasury Department.
Suspect Lopez was charged with one charge of counterfeiting and one charge of theft scheme over $500.00. Additional charges are expected locally after a State's Attorney's Office and Grand Jury review. The investigation will continue by the above named Agencies. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was contacted and a detainer was filed for Suspect Lopez's continued detention, if he was released on local charges. He is currently being held on $50,000.00 bond.
The Sheriff's department advises all business owners to be on the continued lookout for anyone attempting to cash United States Treasury Department Checks.
The St. Mary's County Bureau of Criminal Investigations is an investigative team comprised of Detectives from the St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office and the Maryland State Police, Leonardtown Barrack. The unit was established on July 1, 2003 and is based in Leonardtown, Maryland.