Sonora, California –– Tuolumne County District Attorney Cassandra Jenecke announced today that on May 9, 2023, 43-year-old Michael Marques was convicted by a jury of Grand Theft and Procuring/Offering a False or Forged Instrument, both felonies, after a 2 day jury trial.
The case was initiated after a traffic stop was conducted for an unrelated offense on November 9, 2022. Mr. Marques was in possession of a large sum of cash and mentioned that it was from COVID Rental Relief. Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office followed up and worked diligently to uncover a scheme hatched by Mr. Marques and another individual (who is now deceased) where they forged numerous documents in an attempt to obtain money from California’s COVID Rent Relief. After sending multiple forged documents, Mr. Marques received a payout of $22,500 from California.
While the jury deliberated, Mr. Marques, who was out of custody on an ankle monitor, was allowed to leave the courthouse. After the parties were advised that a verdict had been reached, Tuolumne County Probation received an alert that Mr. Marques’ ankle monitor was tampered with. The Court gave Mr. Marques an hour to present himself for the verdict but Mr. Marques never returned to the courthouse. The guilty verdicts were taken in his absence. A no bail bench warrant has been issued for Mr. Marques arrest and he remains at large today.
Mr. Marques still faces an enhancement charge for having a prior strike that will be determined by a judge when Mr. Marques is located. If found true, Mr. Marques is facing a maximum of 6 years State Prison.
Deputy District Attorney Stephanie Novelli prosecuted the case for the People.
For more information, please contact: DDA Stephanie Novelli at 209-588-5450