Accused La Quinta card skimmer pleads not guilty

POSTED: 07:29 AM PDT May 22, 2013 
INDIO, Calif. -

A 29-year-old man accused of using an electronic skimmer to steal account information from Chase bank customers at a La Quinta branch pleaded not guilty Tuesday to more than a dozen felony charges.

Vahe Ruben Yerkanyan of Sun Valley is charged with 16 counts, including burglary, forging an access card, using personal information to obtain credit and grand theft of an access card.

Yerkanyan was arraigned at the Larson Justice Center in Indio and remains in custody in lieu of $500,000 bail. He is due back in court on June 18.

Yerkanyan was arrested a week ago at the Chase branch at 74-930 Country Club Drive in Palm Desert, where he allegedly was trying to use the stolen information to get cash.

Riverside County sheriff's Sgt. Steve DaSilva said that two days before the arrest was made, the defendant allegedly went into a vestibule at the Chase branch at 78-805 Highway 111 in La Quinta on three occasions, installing and removing a skimming device.

Last Tuesday, a security guard at the Palm Desert bank alerted law enforcement that someone was trying to use stolen account information there, he said.

Deputy District Attorney John Rodnick said last week that there are at least seven to eight alleged victims in the case. He said there is an Immigration and Customs Enforcement hold on Yerkanyan, who is an Armenian citizen.