On Dec. 21, 2013, Long Beach Fire Department officials summoned police detectives to an East Anaheim Street apartment, where the the three-day-old corpse of 24-year-old Angelica Chavez was found in bed after a drug overdose.
Seven weeks later, Chavez's father received Citibank statements showing that someone had made 83 cash withdraws and purchases from his daughter's checking account after her death.
The U.S. Marshal's office today has Buena Park's Matthew Lara in no-bail custody as the thief.
According to federal prosecutors, surveillance videos show that Lara–already a convicted felon–used Chavez's debit card to steal more than $4,700 inside the Westminster Mall as well as at Walmart, Toys-R-Us, Foot Locker, Walgreens and 7-Eleven.
A raid on Lara's residence he shares with his parents recovered other stolen identity theft items for living individuals, who told police they'd never met the defendant, according to court records.
To increase his ability to steal funds, Lara also deposited $11,815 in stolen checks into Chavez's account and then made cash withdraws, according to a U.S. Postal Inspector's report.
This week inside Orange County's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse, a Southern California grand jury indicted Lara, who was born in 1989, on two criminal counts: bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.
He denied guilt to detectives, but will face a scheduled Oct. 6 arraignment.