Another local arraigned in theft ring

Norma Garza extradited from California

— Another Lower Yakima Valley resident was arraigned July 13 in relation to the theft ring allegedly involved in stealing nearly $1 million from Zirkle Fruit.

Norma Garza, 52, of Grandview, is charged with leading organized crime and four counts of forgery, records show. Nine others are believed involved in the theft ring.

Her husband, Enrique Barriga Moreno, also known as Daniel Alvarez, 58, is charged with first-degree theft and eight counts of forgery.

Garza was extradited on a nationwide warrant from Imperial County in California. Records show she was five miles from the Mexico border with a bus voucher for her return to Eastern Washington.

The former Zirkle Fruit bookkeeper was booked into Benton County Jail on July 12 and appeared in Benton County Superior Court in front of Judge Jackie Shea Brown.

Garza’s $100,000 bail was reduced to $75,000 and the judge ordered her to surrender her passport.

A Mabton couple charged in the case — Maria Teresa Galarza, 38, and her husband Geronimo Marquez Galarza, 44 — are still being sought in the case, records show.

Maria Galarza is charged with first-degree identity theft and five counts of forgery; Geronimo Galarza is charged with first-degree theft and three counts of forgery.

Warrants have been issued for their arrest with no bail granted.

Two other women allegedly connected to the scheme were arraigned last month, records show.

Veronica Araceli Garza, 37, of Prosser, is scheduled for trial Oct. 30 on one charge of first-degree theft and three counts of forgery, records show.

She also appeared in court for pre-trial motions July 13, records show.

Jennifer Marie Barriga, 19, of Grandview, is scheduled for an Aug. 14 trial for of first-degree theft, records show.

The charges stem from an alleged payroll fraud scheme at Zirkle Fruit’s Paterson site, records show.

The women allegedly were part of an effort that resulted in $956,153 in fraudulent checks involving as many as 11 employees, records show.


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