Arrests end check theft ring

OKEECHOBEE — An apparent ongoing criminal enterprise staged by a local brother and sister to fuel their drug habits has kept Detective James Pickering busy since early summer.

But with the arrest of Joshua David Roach, 32, on Wednesday, Dec. 14, the Okeechobee City Police Department (OCPD) investigator’s case is nearly closed.

Joshua Roach, 32

Roach, S.E. 27th Street, Okeechobee, was arrested on warrants obtained by Detective Pickering that charged him with nine felony counts of uttering a forged instrument and two felony counts of grand theft. He was booked into the Okeechobee County Jail on a bond of $55,000.

However, because Roach was already on probation for grand theft and credit card fraud he was also arrested on a Department of Corrections (DOC) warrant that charged him with violation of probation on both of those charges. Because he is not offered a bond on the violation of probation charges, he cannot be released.

Roach’s sister, Rebecca Dicara Velasquez, was arrested in May in connection with this case. Detective Pickering charged the 39-year-old woman with 13 counts of uttering a forged instrument, six counts of grand theft and seven counts of petit theft.

Rebecca Dicara Velasquez

She was also arrested on one count of possession of a controlled substance (dilaudid) without a prescription. That arrest was made by a detective with the Okeechobee Narcotics Task Force.

On June 30 she was found guilty on all counts by Circuit Court Judge Dan Vaughn and was sentenced to 18 months in prison on the felony charges. Judge Vaughn ruled that all counts would run concurrently.

She was sentenced to time served in the county jail on the misdemeanor petit theft charges.

According to Detective Pickering while Velasquez was cleaning a local woman’s home she stole a number of that woman’s checks. Roach, continued the investigator, would then cash them and deposit the money into his sister’s bank account. Those checks totaled $3,035, stated the detective’s arrest report.

The thefts occurred from April 20 through May 12.

“She was arrested May 12. Then, while she was in jail, he (Roach) was still cashing checks,” explained the OCPD detective. “I based his arrest off of hers.”

While Velasquez was in jail, Roach then stole checks from a family member.

That family member’s loss totaled approximately $900, added Detective Pickering.

The detective’s probable cause affidavit stated Roach would steal a check, forge the family member’s name then deposit it in his sister’s bank account. Then, as soon as the check was deposited, he would go to the bank’s ATM and withdraw $200.

The detective’s affidavit details how, on two different occasions, Roach cashed checks totalling more than $300 each. Those incidents led to the grand theft charges.

In that case against Roach, the affidavit alleges he stole checks from the family member on May 27, May 28 and May 29. He then forged the victim’s name, deposited the check and immediately made a withdrawal.

“On June 10, 2016, still photos of the transactions were received by the Okeechobee City Police Department. Joshua David Roach is the person in the photos making the transactions,” stated Detective Pickering in his affidavit.

The reason for the thefts, said Detective Pickering, was simple.

“All of the money was used to buy narcotics. None of it went for food, clothing or shelter,” he added.

DOC records show Roach was sentenced on Feb. 18, 2016, to serve two years on community supervision after he was found guilty on the grand theft and credit card fraud charges. That supervision was slated to end Feb. 17, 2018.

Eric Kopp is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News

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