A Milwaukee man accused of forging an Elm Grove woman's checks for personal financial gain made his first court appearance Friday.
Roberto J. Juarez Nieves Jr., 24, is accused of 46 counts of identity theft after writing unauthorized checks belonging to Nancy Meyer. Juarez Nieves waived his right to a preliminary hearing Aug. 15.
During a two-year span, Juarez Nieves had worked for Meyer, the Elm Grove woman, as a personal assistant. His responsibilities included yard work, basic household chores and processing bill payments.
Juarez Nieves could be sentenced up to 276 years in prison — six years for each of the 46 counts against him — or have imposed a $10,000 fine. His next court appearance is Aug. 25.
At last week's initial court appearance, Juarez Nieves' attorney, Christopher Hartley, attempted unsuccessfully to lower the bail amount, which was set at $46,000 after Elm Grove Police arrested Juarez Nieves on July 18.
Held in lieu of bail
To date, Juarez Nieves has not been able to post bail.
"He's young. He has no record. This is a property crimes case," Hartley said. "I don't believe he's a flight risk. I don't think he's a risk to the community."
But Court Commissioner Thomas Pieper, who oversaw last week's hearing, had a different perspective. Pieper said he would defer the bond amount to Assistant District Attorney Kathryn Foster.
While Juarez Nieves has not been arrested in the past, other accusations have surfaced recently. After arresting Juarez Nieves at Meyer's home in mid-July, Elm Grove Police found oxycodone hydrochloride pills in his pants pocket. A sweep of Juarez Nieves' vehicle also revealed cocaine.
"There are some substantial concerns here," Pieper said.
According to Elm Grove Police documents pertaining to the incident, allegations of Juarez Nieves' acts of identity theft began to surface in recent months as Meyer noticed several checks missing from her checkbook. She also had received at least one notification of insufficient funds from her financial institution, U.S. Bank.
After discussing the matter with U.S. Bank representatives, Meyer told police she learned that Juarez Nieves had written and cashed multiple checks in his name. In the complaint, Meyer said she allowed Juarez to write information on checks as part of his personal assistant duties. She did not, however, allow him to sign her name to a check or write a check out to himself.
Investigating the account
As concerns arose, U.S. Bank personnel conducted an investigation into Meyer's checking account and found 22 checks had been written to Juarez Nieves in a three-and-a-half month period that ended in mid-July.
The checks totaled $14,039, and Meyer herself had written only one of the 22 checks to Juarez Nieves. The one check written by Meyer was in the amount of $140 for Juarez Nieves' services.
According to U.S. Bank personnel, the amount of that check was later altered to $740. A more exhaustive review of Meyer's checking account history revealed more checks had been written to Juarez Nieves without Meyer's consent from December to June. The total of those checks came to $19,725.
Drug allegations separate
The drug allegations are being charged separately. According to Elm Grove Police, Juarez Nieves initially told officers he was using the oxycodone hydrochloride pills for back pain. He later told police he intended to sell the cocaine found in his vehicle for profit.
In addition to the 46 counts of identity theft, Juarez Nieves faces charges of possession with the intent to distribute cocaine and for possession of narcotics.
Elm Grove Police have said additional charges against Juarez Nieves could be filed at a later date.
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