High-tech thief gets probation
January 8, 2004
Valentin Raducan, 31, pleaded “no contest” to one charge of fraudulent use of an access card, a misdemeanor, in Nevada County Superior Court on Nov. 18. Raducan had initially been charged with two other felony counts, including concealing, selling or withholding stolen property and burglary; however, both of these charges were dismissed.
Raducan received three years of conditional probation for his plea (the equivalent of pleading guilty) in addition to 20 days jail time and a fine of $708.78.
Other conditions of his probation include: the requirement that he submit to search and seizure, he is forbidden from possessing any access cards (such as credit cards and ATM cards) unless they have been issued to him, and he is forbidden from possessing electronic surveillance equipment. The defendant also agreed to pay restitution, although that amount has not yet been determined.
After his arrest in early November, agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation were looking into whether Raducan might have ties to an organized crime ring linked to similar activities nationwide. After further investigation, the FBI decided that there was not enough evidence to pursue charges other than those he faced in the State of California.
Raducan was arrested Nov. 5 in Truckee after Truckee police officers noticed him talking with another man on a two-way radio in the vicinity of the U.S. Bank branch on Donner Pass Road. A silver van was parked nearby with the motor running and nobody inside.
Inside the van, officers found a laptop computer, a suitcase and a new coffeemaker that had recently been purchased from Starbucks. Further investigation revealed that Raducan had purchased more than $1,100 worth of coffee equipment from Starbucks, using two credit cards that had been reported stolen in the North Lake Tahoe area earlier that day.
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Officers also found a pinhole camera attached to the U.S. Bank ATM machine which they believe was transmitting PIN numbers of potential victims to the laptop inside the van.
Nevada County Public Defender David Humphreys, who represented Raducan in this case, was pleased with the way Raducan’s trial wound up.
“As far as my client was concerned, it was a good result,” Humphreys said.