By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Suspect took pennies on the dollar to pay others bills using stolen municipal funds
City-Fraud-DSC 0440
Marie Freitas, 39, is led to a waiting patrol car by officers just before noon Thursday being charged with fraud involving the writing of electronic checks on a Manteca city bank account. Her small dog continued to circle officers as the woman was led away from her front door. - photo by GLENN KAHL

A 39-year-old Manteca woman duped the Stanislaus County Superior Court and paid the bills of others using City of Manteca bank account routing numbers getting a return of pennies on the dollars for her efforts, Manteca Police said.

Marie Freitas was arrested by detectives Thursday morning at her home in the 1300 block of April Place where officers had served the second search warrant of the morning in the case. Several more arrests are expected within the next week, according to officers.

Detective Steve Harris said that one of her outstanding debts totaled $2,145 that she paid was to the Stanislaus County Superior Court for fines that had been levied against her.  Freitas had also associated herself with a number of people she came in contact with while at a Manteca market where she was serving out an alternative work program.

Harris said that she allegedly offered to pay their outstanding bills including at least one from Verizon getting paid in cash in lesser amounts than the total outstanding amounts on the bills.

The detective said officers found mail, checks and ID cards allegedly stolen out of the Stockton area when they searched the house.  He added that drug paraphernalia in the form of crack pipes was also discovered lying around in the north Manteca home.

Child Protective Services has been contacted due to the apparent availability of drugs to the young children, he said.

Harris noted that additional fraud charges had been reported up until last Friday adding several thousands of dollars to the original list of payments that had topped $11,000.

The case began to unfold Thursday morning with a traffic stop in Tracy shortly before 8 a.m. that was initiated by the DELTARAT auto theft task force and Officers Steve Schluer and Robert Branie.  A subsequent probation search of a Tracy home grew out of that traffic stop on a city street that reportedly yielded multiple items of evidence in the fraud case alerting detectives to the home in Manteca where they reported finding additional evidence.

Detectives Steve Harris, Greg Beall and Rob Armosino had been working the case for the past several days to bring the city’s case to fruition.

“Our detectives today did some really good police work,” said public information officer Jason Hensley.  He also credited the department’s Street Crimes Unit and the Tracy Police Department in the overall investigation.