Local News

Friday, Dec 20 2013 05:01 PM

Driver sentenced to a year in jail for attempted almond theft

By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN

A driver who tried to make off with 43,000 pounds of almonds was sentenced Friday to a year in jail.

The unusual caper featured fake documents and instructions to drop the haul off at a street in Los Angeles and just walk away. But Francisco Javier Lopez Martinez never made it out of Sunny Gem's facility in Wasco.

Deputies who'd been alerted to the scheme were waiting for the 32-year-old Martinez and arrested him Oct. 10 on suspicion of forgery, using false documents, burglary and attempted grand theft.

Martinez pleaded no contest last month to the burglary charge and forging an official seal and the remaining charges were dismissed.

Martinez told investigators he was paid $180 from an acquaintance to pick up the almonds at Sunny Gem, deputies said in redacted reports filed in court. He was given a fake driver's license for the job, and the truck he drove to the facility had a stolen license plate.

Deputies discovered the trucking company Martinez supposedly drove for was fake, and the company's logo was affixed to the sides of the truck Martinez was driving with clear packing tape. Deputies removed the tape and found "Lopez Produce" painted on the doors.

Martinez was also in possession of falsified immigration papers. Investigators said the fake license Martinez was carrying had been issued to an Asian woman.

Martinez told deputies he'd been suspicious of the job, but was unemployed and needed the money.

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