Change of plea hearing in fraud case continued
A change of plea hearing in Yuma County Superior Court for the Texas man accused of making $1.3 million worth of fraudulent returns at more than 1,000 U.S. Walmarts — including two in Yuma — was continued again on Tuesday at the request of the defense.
Thomas Frudaker has been charged with fraudulent schemes and artifices and theft, which are both felonies, and one misdemeanor count of theft. He remains in custody at Yuma County jail on a $100,000 bond.
Attorney Fausto Falzone of the Yuma County Public Defender’s Office, who was standing in on behalf of Frudaker’s assigned attorney, requested a two-week continuance saying the defense had not received the plea offer yet.
He explained to Superior Court Judge Stephen Rouff, who is presiding over the case, that the reason for the delay is that the plea offer is still pending victim notification, adding that Frudaker’s attorney would also need time to review it with his client once it is received.
After hearing from both counsel, Rouff continued the hearing until 8:30 a.m. on Nov. 4, for either a trial setting or change of plea hearing, adding that the hearing has already been postponed three previous times and he would prefer not to postpone again.
According to Yuma police, on June 15 officers responded to a report of a fraudulent transaction at a Walmart at 2501 S. Avenue B.
Upon investigation, they determined that Frudaker had allegedly removed parts from a computer he had previously purchased from the Walmart and was attempting to return it.
Officers also were able to determine that Frudaker made a similar transaction on Wednesday at another Walmart located at 8151 E. 32nd St.
Frudaker, who is suspected of making the fraudulent returns over the past 18 months, was arrested and booked into Yuma County jail.