Former Chamber Employee Arrested In Major Theft Ring
The former membership director of the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce is behind bars, part of a massive theft ring derailed by detectives from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s station last week.
Traci Pontecorvo, 50, was arrested Thursday morning when detectives served a search warrant at 23928 Arroyo Park Drive, #117, in the Summit neighborhood of Valencia. Pontecorvo left the Chamber in 2005 and is most recently listed on professional online resources as a representative of a local builder's resource.
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A total of 10 people were arrested at that location on suspicion of several felonies, including commercial, vehicular and residential burglary. Along with various items of suspected stolen property, investigators recovered methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana.
A second location, in the 22900 block of Oak Ridge Drive in Newhall, yielded six more suspects during a parole/probation check conducted Friday morning. A 2-year-old was taken into protective custody at that location.
Lt. Steve Low, who heads the Santa Clarita detective bureau, said that the group operated as a major theft ring, victimizing individuals as well as commercial targets, including Toys R Us. He also said that many of those arrested were “familiar” to detectives; a check of individual booking records revealed that some had been arrested before. Three of them are being held without bail for violations of their parole or probation.
Low said that several pieces of property were recovered, as well as bar code readers, at the Arroyo Park location. The amount of narcotics was typical for the resident’s personal use and he said it did not appear that they were selling.
“It looked more for their use, not for sale,” Low said.
Among the items recovered were a significant amount of electronic equipment, computers, iPods, cell phones, Xbox and Playstation games and a large amount of gift cards.
He added that Toys R Us appears to be their largest commercial victim, company officials told Low that their losses from this ring and others operating in the San Fernando Valley, are up to $400,000.
Those arrested Thursday were scheduled to appear in court Monday. Those arrested Friday are scheduled to appear on Tuesday.
Those arrested at the two locations include:
Traci Pontecorvo, 50, of Valencia. She is being held at the Century Detention Center in lieu of $215,000 bail.
Matthew Pontecorvo, 21, of Valencia. He is being held at Men’s Central Jail in lieu of $20,000 bail.
Taylor Sunderman, 18, of Valencia. She is being held at Century Detention Center in lieu of $20,000 bail.
Robert Cowan, 36, of Valencia. He is being held at the Santa Clarita Valley station in lieu of $20,000 bail.
Jennifer Battin, 26, of Valencia. She is being held at Century Detention Center in lieu of $10,000 bail.
Heather Gross, 33, of Valencia. She is being held without bail at Century Detention Center.
Rikki Phares, 33, of Valencia. She is being held at Century Detention Center in lieu of $10,000 bail.
Edward Lopez, 29 of Valencia. He is at Men’s Central Jail on a no-bail hold.
Richie Monje, 36, of Valencia. He is being held at Men’s Central Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.
William Pollay, 32, of Valencia. He is being held at the Santa Clarita Valley station in lieu of $50,000 bail.
Christopher Pollay, 28, of Valencia. He is at Men’s Central Jail on a no-bail hold.
Jacob Hurley, 36, of Newhall. He is being held at SCV Station in lieu of $20,000 bail.
Lindsay Burgess, 25, of Newhall. She is at the SCV Station in lieu of $100,000 bail.
Richard Hethrington, 43, of Valencia. He is being held at the SCV Station in lieu of $10,000 bail.
No custody or bail information was available for the following suspects:
Justin Pheiffer, 22, of Saugus.
Kyle Sorenson, 26, of Valencia
All face burglary charges, commercial burglary, grand theft by false pretenses, possession of a controlled substance or being present in a place having knowledge of use of a controlled substance; possession of stolen property, conspiracy to commit burglary; parole and probation violations. Those arrested at the Oak Ridge location also face child endangerment charges.
“The actions by our detectives resulted in the breakup of a major theft ring in the SCV,” Low said. “A lot are known by our detectives; we’ve had many contacts through the years with a lot of these people. Now that they’re behind bars, the activity should stop for awhile.”