A county grand jury Friday indicted Vera Lopez, the so-called “Christmas Grinch,” on charges of stealing holiday toys and gift cards meant for needy children from a charity run by firefighters.
The 13-count indictment, which adds several new charges against Lopez, moves the case directly to District Court for trial and eliminates the need for a preliminary hearing.
Prosecutors now allege that Lopez, 41, stole some $30,000 in toys and gift cards from the Southern Nevada Burn Foundation.
She is charged with felony theft, obtaining money under false pretenses, burglary and burglary with the assistance of a child.
At the request of Chief Deputy District Attorney Mike Staudaher, District Judge Linda Bell ordered Lopez’s bail raised from $36,000 to $100,000. Lopez, who is being held at the Clark County Detention Center, is to make an initial appearance before Bell on Jan. 21.
Las Vegas police arrested Lopez on Dec. 20 following a two-week undercover operation in which detectives say they observed her using donated $10 Wal-Mart gift cards that she unlawfully obtained from the Burn Foundation.
Though she told the foundation the toys were to be passed along to needy children, she sold them and used the money and the gift cards to buy items for herself.
After her arrest, Staudaher said Lopez came “about as close to being a Grinch as you can be.”
The Burn Foundation, which cooperated in the investigation, has been overseeing the firefighters’ holiday toy collection efforts for needy children since 2003.
Contact Jeff German at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-8135 or read more courts coverage at lvlegalnews.com.