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I-10 Toyota employee pleads not guilty to alleged grand theft

INDIO, Calif. - An Indio car dealership employee who allegedly took thousands of dollars from his employer pleaded not guilty to a felony grand theft charge Wednesday.

Jose Garza Jr., 41, of Coachella is accused of having customers at I-10 Toyota in Indio give him down payments in cash, amounts which Garza did not include in formal contracts.

The discrepancy was uncovered after a customer told Garza's employer that he paid Garza $1,500 in cash, which was not included in the payment schedule outlined in the customer's contract, according to an arrest warrant declaration.

Garza's employer first reported the alleged embezzlement to the Indio Police Department in June.

The same issue was found in other contracts recently written by Garza, with $7,000 total in cash deposits that were missing, the declaration alleges. Though the down payments were not documented in the customers' contracts, Garza allegedly left notes indicating that customers were to pay cash on certain dates.

Garza, who remains released on his own recognizance, will return to court Jan. 8 for a felony settlement conference.


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