Ex-School Worker Probed In Thefts
Donation Jar, Electronics Reported Missing
HARRISONBURG — A former custodian at Stone Spring Elementary School is under investigation in the theft of several items, including $300 in a donation jar for victims of a recent apartment complex fire.
Marcus Allen Velez, 22, of Harrisonburg, is charged with one felony count of grand larceny. He was arrested June 6.
Velez is accused of stealing a grill worth more than $200 from the school on May 13, but more charges are pending, said Lt. Chris Rush, commander of the Harrisonburg Police Department criminal investigation division.
The investigation began earlier this month when Stone Spring’s principal, Lynn Sprouse, reported items missing from the school, according to an affidavit for a search warrant for Velez’s home on South Avenue.
Some of the items stolen include Bose speakers taken from a music classroom, a Wii Nintendo system from the physical education department, two iPods from preschool classrooms, a Galaxy tablet, a digital camera and two iPads from special education classrooms.
Also among the missing items is a donation jar filled with about $300 collected by teachers, staff and students.
In April, six units were damaged by fire at Chestnut Ridge Apartments, leaving 23 people displaced — eight adults and 15 children. The money in the jar was intended for the families displaced by the blaze.
The principal told police the items were all in locked rooms.
“Sprouse said the only people who have master keys are the office staff and the custodians,” the affidavit states. “Sprouse said he had just fired Velez on June 2 for several reasons. Sprouse said that the night he had fired Velez, one of the office secretaries had seen Velez’s vehicle parked to the side of the building.”
Sprouse declined to comment Thursday.
On June 2, an officer went to Velez’s apartment to speak with him.
“As [I] was speaking to him [I] observed the grill that was reported stolen sitting on the living room floor by the television,” the investigator wrote in the affidavit. “[I] asked Velez about it, to which he replied that he had purchased the grill at the Mercy House for $15. He could not tell [me] who he had purchased it from there, or when he purchased it.”
Velez then surrendered the grill to the officer, the affidavit states, but denied having anything else that was missing from the school.
The document states the investigator asked if he could search Velez’s home. Velez told him that he would need to get a search warrant, according to the affidavit.
The investigator obtained the warrant and searched the home, but nothing was seized.
Velez, who was released on his own recognizance from Rockingham County Jail, is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Monday.
Contact Pete DeLea at 574-6278 or email@example.com