UPDATED: Clerk’s office arrests part of check-fraud probe

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The arrests of three employees of the Doña Ana County Clerk’s Office early Monday were tied to a check-cashing scheme, the Las Cruces Sun-News is reporting.

From the newspaper:

“It comes on the heels of an earlier round of arrests — which happened Friday — related to the same alleged scheme, which entailed fraudulently notarizing documents that would’ve allowed for the cashing of nearly $12,000 in federal tax refund checks that had been obtained using stolen identities, according to court documents obtained by the Sun-News.

“On Friday, Maria L. Ceniceros, 42, of Anthony, N.M., a county clerk’s office document technician, was arrested and charged with forgery, identity theft and fraud, according to court documents. Her daughter, Denise Ceniceros, 24, and husband, Francisco Ceniceros, 47, also are facing charges of conspiracy to commit fraud, according to records.

“Maria Ceniceros, who has worked for the county since February 2013, is believed by authorities to have been the local ringleader for the alleged scam, according to county and court records.”

Doña Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins

Doña Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins

The names of the Clerk’s Office employees who were arrested haven’t been released. Officials plan a 1 p.m. news conference to discuss the situation.

Until then, officials aren’t saying much.

“I can’t tell you anything” County Clerk Lynn Ellins told NMPolitics.net earlier Monday.

“We’re aware of the investigation, we’re cooperating, and the clerk’s office is open for business,” county spokesman Jess Williams said.

D’Antonio’s spokeswoman Eunice Calderazzo said she was “in the process of being briefed” and couldn’t provide any details.

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