Gypsum man facing charges in multiple counties for fraudulent checks totaling $728,000
Jesse Flores allegedly wrote the bad checks to steal cars, trucks, trailers, ATVs and snowmobiles from their owners
EAGLE — Jesse Robert Flores, 20, appeared in Eagle County Court Tuesday after turning himself in for an arrest warrant alleging that he wrote a fraudulent check for $30,000 to steal a used Jeep Wrangler from its owner.
In brief comments made to the court, Flores appeared to characterize the matter as “a civil misunderstanding” between himself and the seller of the vehicle. But prosecutors allege that Flores has written numerous fraudulent checks over the past few months to steal vehicles from their owners in Eagle, Summit, Routt, Mesa, Chaffee, Grand and Garfield counties.
While the arrest warrant was issued for one fraudulent check and one vehicle theft alleged in Eagle County, similar allegations of fraudulent checks and vehicle thefts by Flores have been piling up so quickly in various jurisdictions that police and prosecutors have had a challenging time keeping up with all of them, and are still investigating potential cases against Flores, said Heidi McCollum, assistant district attorney for Colorado’s 5th Judicial District.
Flores now has open criminal cases in Mesa, Routt, Chaffee, Summit and Eagle counties, with additional investigations occurring in Eagle, Grand and Garfield counties, McCollum said.
Flores appeared in Eagle County Court via a video feed from the Eagle County Detention Facility for an advisement of rights and bond hearing. Flores is not yet formally charged in the Eagle County case.
“It’s like reading the same report repeatedly in all these cases,” McCollum said of the fraudulent check and vehicle theft cases against Flores.
According to prosecutors, Flores allegedly wrote fraudulent checks to buy cars, trucks, ATVs, snowmobiles and trailers, using the vehicles for as long as he could string along their sellers. He would later return the vehicles, some of them with damage, as law enforcement got involved.
In the various cases and investigations, fraudulent checks allegedly written by Flores in recent months so far total $728,000, with another $50,000 in damages reported to the vehicles, McCollum said.
Flores did all this while out on bond in a Mesa County case from August, where he is charged with motor vehicle theft and fraud by check, McCollum told the court.
According to an affidavit filed for Flores’ arrest warrant in Eagle County, sheriff’s deputies on Oct. 28 recovered approximately 13 vehicles, all-terrain vehicles and utility trailers from two storage facilities that were both associated with Flores. All of the vehicles had either been reported as stolen by Flores, or were associated with fraudulent checks he had written to purchase them, according to the affidavit.
McCollum outlined a lengthy list of allegations pending in various counties against Flores in court Tuesday, requesting a $500,000 bond in his Eagle County case.
In Chaffee County, McCollum said Flores allegedly wrote $35,500 in fraudulent checks to steal motor vehicles. He allegedly wrote another $48,155 in fraudulent checks in Summit County, as well as $33,000 in fraudulent checks in Routt County.
Other criminal cases against Flores are based in Rifle, for fraudulent checks totaling $12,432, and in Grand County, for fraudulent checks totaling $91,182 and for vehicle damages totaling $28,470, McCollum said.
The largest case police and prosecutors have found so far is in Glenwood Springs, McCollum said, where Flores allegedly wrote over $290,000 in fraudulent checks to several car dealerships, with one vehicle returned with $2,500 in damages.
Additional cases involving Flores are being investigated by the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, the Eagle Police Department, and the Vail Police Department, as well as in Grand and Garfield counties, according to McCollum.
Judge Rachel J. Olguin-Fresquez set a $30,000 cash bond for Flores’ Eagle County case and said if he is able to post the bond, he is ordered not to purchase, trade, or in any way exchange any motor vehicle.
The district attorney’s office has until Dec. 22 to file formal criminal charges against Flores in the Eagle County case. He is due back in Eagle County Court on Dec. 28.
Tom Lotshaw can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.