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Former Colusa Police Department Lt., Elden Tamez, was arraigned last week on felony charges in connection to stealing a wallet belonging to murder victim Karen Garcia, which reportedly contained more than $1,200 when it was discovered during the course of an investigation into her 2018 disappearance, court documents indicate.
Tamez is also accused of taking a Sig Sauer P220 semi-automatic handgun, a Sig Sauer P228, and a Smith and Wesson .38 special revolver that reportedly belong to the Colusa Police Department.
Garcia’s tan Kate Spade wallet, which had been admitted into evidence at the Colusa Police Department around Jan. 12, 2018, was reportedly recovered from a hall closet in Tamez’ Yuba City apartment after investigators from the Colusa County District Attorney’s Office and Yuba City Police Department served Tamez with a warrant to search the premises on Jan. 28.
The new charges are in addition to embezzlement charges filed last December related to $12,800 missing from the Colusa Police Department’s Canine (K9) Association and Colusa Police Officers Association, for which Tamez has already pleaded not guilty.
According to the statement of probable cause for the search, obtained by the Pioneer Review, the theft of Karen Garcia’s property was suspected after a Colusa Police Officer discovered an evidence bag in Tamez’ former office on Jan. 28 that contained the dead woman’s purse.
According to police department records and staff, Tamez had previously indicated that he would return the purse and wallet to Garcia’s family. Evidence records show the purse and wallet contained $1,287 in various denominations, her bank ATM card, her California Driver’s License, and miscellaneous items and cards.
In the search warrant affidavit, investigators said they called Garcia’s sister and mother on Jan. 28 and confirmed they had not received Garcia’s belongings. The wallet found in Tamez’ home later that evening had no money in it, but still contained Garcia’s identifying information, the record states. The police also recovered police style radios, handcuffs and miscellaneous property likely belonging to the Colusa Police Department, the affidavit states.
Tamez is scheduled to enter a plea in Colusa County Superior Court on March 4 on the five new felony charges related to the alleged theft. The court could also set a preliminary hearing on the embezzlement charges the same day.
According to court documents, Tamez resigned from the Colusa Police Department on Oct. 17, 2019 when the theft from the K9 account was discovered and after he reportedly admitted to Chief Josh Fitch that he was responsible.
A Yolo County criminal investigator, who audited the accounts, discovered 34 unauthorized cash withdrawals from the K9 account between October 26, 2018 and Oct. 16, 2019, totaling $8,860, and 16 unauthorized cash withdrawals from the Peace Officers Association, during the same time period, totaling $3,940, court records indicate. ■