Robstown police have filed a charge of theft with the Nueces County District Attorney's Office against a former employee of the Robstown Independent School District in connection with a missing district laptop that was found to have recently been sold to a Corpus Christi woman.
RISD Superintendent Alfonso Obregon said he gave police the go-ahead on July 2 to file a theft charge with the DA's office against 39-year-old Melinda Garcia, a former counselor with Ortiz Intermediate School. Garcia is being accused of selling one of three laptops reported as stolen by the district to a Corpus Christi pawn shop, police said.
Detectives questioned the pawn shop owner last month after they found the laptop in the possession of a Corpus Christi woman, who told the detectives she had recently purchased the item at the pawn shop, Robstown police said.
Obregon said the district has been looking into what happened to the three missing laptops since May 2010. The devices were assigned to the district’s Migrant Students Program, he added.
Robstown police said they located one of the missing laptops at the home of a district employee earlier this year, but it was determined to be the result of a clerical error, and not criminal wrongdoing on the employee’s part.
The pawn shop manager who allegedly purchased the laptop, worth an estimated $1,200, from Garcia for $150 allegedly told police he asked Garcia if the laptop belonged to the district, to which she reportedly replied it did not. Robstown police said Garcia told them she was under the assumption that the laptop was her property, since the district had not requested its return, and admitted selling the computer to the pawnbroker.
Obregon said he opted to move forward with filing charges in order to ensure similar situations do not occur in the future within the district.
“We cannot condone this type of behavior,” he said. “We just have to continue with what needs to be done.”
The district’s director of human resources, Roel Lara, said Garcia submitted a letter of resignation to his office last week. She had been employed with the district for more than 10 years, he said.
The Nueces County Record Star has requested a copy of Garcia’s resignation letter.
Robstown police said they filed their case with the office of Nueces County District Attorney Mark Skurka on July 5. Garcia had not been arrested as of press time, but police said that will be determined by whether Skurka’s office decides to prosecute.
The theft charge being leveled against Garcia is a Class A Misdemeanor and is punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. Robstown police said they are still looking for the third laptop and are asking the public to call detectives with any information.
The computer reportedly has a tag attached to the exterior identifying it as property of the Robstown Independent School District. The laptop sold by Garcia will be sent to the Corpus Christi Police Department for analysis, Robstown police said.