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Manteca man sought on embezzlement charges

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Manteca man sought on embezzlement charges

Steven Garcia

Photo contributed/


POSTED February 13, 2009 4:58 a.m.
Four elementary school secretaries are out to get their man – a  Manteca area cook,  Steven Garcia, 52, who they say took their money for six “discounted” Dell computers three months ago that he didn’t deliver.

Manteca Police detective Steve Harris wants Garcia, too, but for a felony violation of probation on a 2005 embezzlement conviction where he reportedly forged company checks from at least one of the restaurants in French Camp where he was employed as a cook.

Harris had a stack of Garcia’s crime history on his desk Thursday dating back a number of years that totaled some 35 pages.  He said the Manteca man has not been charged with embezzlement over the computers but the case is currently under investigation.

The women said the scenario began in mid-November when Garcia went to the home of one of the secretaries – a neighbor around the corner – in a northwest section of Manteca where he showed interest in buying a family car.

They knew him through Little League as their boys played together, they said.   He allegedly told the woman that he had a family member who worked for Dell Computers and he could get a discounted price four times each year.  The secretaries got together and decided they would buy six of the computers and could use them for Christmas presents.

One of the secretaries had already been shopping for a computer for her son and was up on the models and the prices.  She said he seemed to know what he was talking about in the models he said were available.  Garcia allegedly said he could get the Dell 1525s for $275 and they were selling for near $1,000.

In what they now believe was a stalling tactic he told them he could later get the higher priced Studio 17 model for the same price.  “I went online and verified that and they (Studio 17) had actually dropped in price – coming down to $999,” one of the women said.

“We started getting a little suspicious when he came up with excuse after excuse.  I found it hard to believe someone would be conning you when he lived around the corner and you had his phone number,” she said.

The women all gave him checks but he reportedly returned to them for cash saying he couldn’t cash the checks at Wells Fargo Bank.  

Garcia reportedly called the women and told them another computer had become available because a family member had died and the relative who was making the purchase needed the money to make a flight to the funeral.

They said he stalled using the pretexts of having pancreatic problems the same as other relatives who died from the ailment.  He also told them he was sick with high blood pressure and diabetes.

The women said they gave him until January to either bring their computers or to return their money to them.

“I finally said I wanted my money back, and he said he was cancelling all the orders and would bring the money back,” the secretary said.  That never happened and police have been looking for him for several weeks.  Garcia resides both in Manteca and in Fresno, police said.

One detective said Garcia had promised to turn himself in at the Manteca Police Department on Monday or Tuesday.  That didn’t happen either.

The police department asks anyone with information to call detective Steve Harris at 239-8406 or Crime Stoppers to remain completely anonymous at 823-4636 where they may collect a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to Garcia’s arrest on the felony warrant.
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