A 48-year-old man extradited from Texas on charges he embezzled $344,000 from former employer Ace Hardware in Santa Ana 20 years ago pleaded not guilty Friday.
Selvin Nelson Lopez denied a count of grand theft, 40 counts of forgery and nine counts of falsifying records, all felonies.
He also denied sentencing enhancement allegations of losses exceeding $100,000, property loss exceeding $150,000 and aggravated white-collar crime with losses between $100,000 and $500,000.
Lopez was accused of fleeing to Honduras in 2003, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. The defendant was charged in an arrest warrant then with a single count of grand theft.
Lopez worked in the accounts payable department of the hardware store chain from 1996 to 2001, said prosecutors, who allege he forged 40 checks amounting to a total of $344,000 between 1998 to 2001, prosecutors said.
Lopez was also accused of doctoring records to get away with it, prosecutors said.
Lopez, convicted of theft in Texas in 2015, was extradited back to Orange County last month, prosecutors said.
Lopez could face up to 38 years, eight months in prison if convicted at trial.
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