Man accused of stealing more than $600K from ATMs says he is being slandered

Kelly Holleran Jul. 23, 2013, 7:27am

A Fort Bend County man has filed suit against his former employer, alleging it caused him to be wrongfully arrested after accusing him of stealing more than $600,000 from ATM machines.

Norman Baker claims he was innocent of stealing any money from the machines, but was arrested by officers of Baytown Police Department on July 11, 2012, after employees of defendant Financial Consulting and Trading International accused him of hacking into ATM machines in Austin County and Waller County.

Before the arrest, defendant Joanna Mejia made a series of telephone calls to sheriff’s offices to tell them that Baker had stolen several hundred thousand dollars from the ATM machines by using his status as an electronics technician to repair ATM machines, according to the complaint filed July 11 in Jefferson County District Court.

Defendant Jesus Carillo also contacted the Austin County sheriff’s office to describe his suspicions.

“Mr. Carillo stated that Norman Baker used to be a contractor that FCTI had hired to repair ATM machines in Texas,” the suit states. “Further, he stated approximately a year and a half ago, FCTI began to notice that any ATM machine Mr. Baker worked on would have cash money missing from it after Baker repaired the machine. Additionally, Mr. Carillo stated that he believed Mr. Baker was not acting alone and that he certainly wasn’t the brains behind the operation due to Mr. Baker being dumb as dirt.”

Baker claims all of the allegations were lies and that he has never stolen any money from an ATM machine.

Because of the slanderous rumors that were spread about Baker, he claims he lost more than 50 percent of his income due to loss of clients who vowed never to use his services again. He says the comments were made maliciously because of the defendants’ hatred toward him.

In fact, Baker claims defendants the Beaumont Police Department and Detective Lisa Jardine continue to prosecute him, even though they lack reasonable grounds to believe that he is guilty. Jardine has also held onto Baker’s computer since his July arrest, even though the Jefferson County district attorney’s office refused to accept charges on Baker, according to the complaint. Jardine continued to pursue charges in other districts, including in Austin County, where Baker was indicted for felony theft, the suit states.

Because of his prosecution, Baker claims he suffered injury to his feelings, reputation, health and character and endured embarrassment, humiliation and mental anguish. He also incurred bail costs of $27,000 and prosecution costs of $10,000.

In his complaint, Baker is seeking a judgment in excess of the minimum jurisdictional limits of Jefferson County District Court, plus exemplary and mental anguish damages, attorney’s fees, pre-judgment interest at the maximum rate allowed by law, costs, post-judgment interest at the legal rate and other relief the court deems just.

Jeffrey D. Sasser of Houston will be representing him.

The case has been assigned to Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd District Court.

Jefferson County District Court case number: E194-528. 

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