A San Diego jewelry manager pleaded guilty to identity theft charges associated with a fraud case targeting the military.
Romano’s Jewelers manager Carlos Torres and store owner Ramil Abalkhad were charged following a 2012 U.S Marine Corps criminal investigation detailed in documents NBC 7 Investigates obtained under the federal Freedom of Information Act.
According to the original criminal complaint, between 2010 and 2012, Abalkhad instructed manager Torres and employee Nellie Cha Noland to obtain the personal financial information of Marine customers and then add unauthorized charges on their store credit accounts.
In February, Judge Blaine Bowman decided 13 of the 23 charges against Abalkhad and Torres would move forward. The charges included identity theft, conspiracy and fraud allegedly targeting young Marines. The other charges were dismissed due to statute of limitation issues.
When issuing his decision, Judge Bowman said, “there’s no question in the mind of the court that the owner of the store and manager of the store took advantage of our service members, young Marines and used their pins to reset their MyPay accounts.”
Click here to see Marines explain how they were targeted.
A trial date for Abalkhad has been set for November 1. He has pleaded not guilty. Noland pleaded guilty in the case earlier this year and agreed to be a cooperating witness against Abalkhad and Torres. The sentencing for her and Torres is set to take place after the trial, according to a representative with the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office.
David Youssefyeh, an attorney for Romano’s has previously told NBC 7 Investigates that “any owner or supervisor of Romano's” had no idea that any of this was going on.