One of three defendants accused of bribing a former Camp Pendleton Marine and unlawfully accessing personal financial information of other service members has pleaded guilty.
Nellie Noland worked for Romano’s Jewelers at one of its North County locations.
In addition to pleading guilty, she has agreed to be a cooperating witness against the two other defendants. Those defendants include Romano’s Jewelers owner, Randy Abalkhad, and manager, Carlos Torres.
In March, the three defendants were charged with 15 felony counts each, which include conspiracy and identity theft.
The complaint alleges, between 2010 and 2012, the owner of Romano’s Jewelers in Carlsbad instructed employees to obtain personal financial information from customers who were active service members and then add unauthorized charges on those customers’ store credit accounts.
The charges are in connection with a 2012 U.S. Marine Corps criminal investigation that NBC 7 Investigates obtained under the federal Freedom of Information Act.
See that story here.
If convicted of all charges, the former employees and owner face up to 12 years and four months each behind bars.
The store in which Noland worked is located at 2525 Camino Real in the Carlsbad Plaza South Shopping Center. Romano’s Jewelers has locations across Southern California, including four others in the San Diego area including National City, Carlsbad and Horton Plaza in Downtown San Diego.
In November, NBC 7 Investigates first reported concerns by military members and their families that Romano’s is taking advantage of service members.
Click here to see the original investigation.
On Tuesday, a readiness hearing was scheduled for the defendants. The judge continued to readiness hearing for July 13th.
NBC 7 Investigates reached out to the attorneys of the defendants. William Hansley who represents Nellie Noland informed us his client changed her plea and is a cooperating witness in the case. Jeffrey Sklan who represents manager Carlos Torres wrote in an email, “The Court graciously continued the matter in light my need to conduct further investigation…Suffice it to say, there are two sides to this dispute vis a vis Mr. Torres.”
David Youssefyeh represents owner Randy Abalkhad and responded via email, saying, “As for Ms. Noland, as I said in my previous email, over three years ago she admitted to military investigators that she was helping out her lover who was a Marine on Camp Pendleton.”