Javier Sanchez, the legislative aide to U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann facing theft charges, was allegedly caught by a covert police camera set up in the Minnesota Republican’s Capitol Hill office over the last three months.
According to a court affidavit, U.S. Capitol Police responding to earlier theft reports installed a hidden camera in Bachmann’s congressional office on April 4. They also left bait money in two envelopes, one containing $80, marked “petty cash,” and another with $120 marked “Birthday Money.”
The money was discovered missing on June 25, and a subsequent check of the surveillance footage determined that the cash from at least one of the envelopes was taken two weeks earlier.
Sanchez, 37, was arrested on Thursday after a “non-custodial interview” with police where he denied any wrongdoing. His D.C. attorney, David Benowitz, said Tuesday that Sanchez “fully denies the allegations.” He pleaded not guilty during an arraignment Friday, and has been released pending a status hearing next month, according to D.C. Superior Court records.
The police affidavit in the case indicates that Bachmann’s office in the Rayburn House Office Building had experienced two previous thefts in February and March, before the police set up their cameras. Sanchez, who was fired Friday, had started working for Bachmann in January, after coming over from a North Carolina congressional office. Capitol Police initially indicated that Sanchez's arrest capped a probe of other thefts in Rayburn, but the charging documents allude only to the thefts in Bachmann's office.
Footage taken at about 6:30 p.m. on June 14, just after office hours, shows a man opening the desk drawer of Bachmann chief of staff Robert Boland. That’s where the $80 “petty cash” envelope was stashed. According to the affidavit, the suspect “removed the envelope, counted the money, and took both the cash and the envelope.”
Minutes later, the same man is seen sitting in the chair of the office scheduler’s desk. The police report makes no mention of the second envelope with the $120, other than to note that it wasn’t there on June 25.
Sanchez, a resident of suburban Virginia, was reportedly identified by Bachmann staffers who were shown the surveillance footage. Sanchez reportedly denied taking the money, telling investigators “I may have taken a quarter once and a while, but I would pay it back.”
Shown a still photo of the surveillance, Sanchez reportedly said, “I’m familiar with that desk, but I didn’t take the money. The police interview ended when Sanchez then requested counsel.
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