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Man Found Guilty In COVID Relief Scam Escapes

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Sonora, CA — The Tuolumne County District Attorney’s Office is releasing information about a case in which a man fled shortly before being convicted of a COVID relief scam.

District Attorney Cassandra Jenecke reports that 43-year-old Michael Marques, along with an unidentified individual who is now deceased, had forged numerous documents to illegally receive $22,500 in COVID rent relief money from the State of California. The investigation commenced after Margues was pulled over for an unrelated traffic stop, and was suspiciously found with a large amount of cash. The scheme was uncovered during an investigation by the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office.

As the jury deliberated just over a month ago, on May 9, following a two-day trial, Marques was equipped with an ankle monitor and allowed to leave the courthouse. After the parties were advised that a verdict was reached, the Tuolumne County Probation Department received an alert that the ankle monitor was tampered with (and removed).

The verdict was announced with Margues absent, and he remains at large today. A no-bail bench warrant has been issued for his arrest. He faces a maximum sentence of six years in prison.

Being that he is still wanted, we requested the earlier booking photo of Marques from the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office, but the department stated that they cannot release it because it was not a violent felony arrest.