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Credit-Card Theft Case Is Unresolved

The case against a Centreville woman accused of credit-card theft has been dropped. But a man who lived with her and was charged with the same offense is still wanted in connection with that crime.

FAIRFAX COUNTY police arrested both of them In October, after a woman's wallet was snatched from her purse, the month before, while she was grocery shopping. Now, Tania Libertad Cotrina Nino is in the clear — and Oscar Edward Alayo, of 14401 Four Chimney Drive in Centreville's Newgate community, is on the lam.

In an Oct. 23, 2006 affidavit for a warrant to search their townhouse, Det. Elizabeth Cummings — a financial-crimes detective with the Criminal Investigations Bureau — explained the case against them.

She wrote that, on Sept. 7, a county resident reported the theft of her wallet from her purse while she was in the Giant Foods store on Stone Road in Centreville. The wallet contained credit cards in her name, cash, $20 gift cards for Target and Starbucks, her driver's license and personal checks.

The woman told police her wallet was stolen while she was at the store's pharmacy counter and her purse was left unattended in her cart. And the store's surveillance video shows that three people entered the store together, just before the crime.

Cummings identified them as Subjects 1, 2 and 3. She wrote that Subject 1, a white male, wore a short-sleeved, black T-shirt with "soccer" in white lettering and the Puma brand insignia on the front. Police believe this man was Alayo. The detective also described what the other two subjects were wearing.

"Within minutes of entering the store, the video shows all three subjects in the pharmacy area in the location of the victim and the shopping cart containing her purse," wrote Cummings. "While the victim was at the pharmacy counter with her back to the cart, Subject 2 stood between two other shoppers waiting in line at the pharmacy, blocking their view, as Subject 1 reached into the victim's purse and removed the wallet."

AFTERWARD, all three people immediately left the store. "A short time later, the victim's Chase Visa credit card was fraudulently used for purchases totaling over $200," wrote Cummings. She noted that one of the transactions was made at the Shopper's Food Warehouse in Centreville.

During the investigation, the detective distributed photos of the three suspects to police. As a result, Officer Joseph Clerkin responded to 14401 Four Chimney Drive on Sept. 8 and identified one of the occupants as Nino.

According to Cummings, Clerkin reportedly "positively identified" Alayo as Subject 1 in the Giant Foods photos, and Nino as Subject 2. She also wrote that, when Officer Adrian Steiding went to the same townhouse Oct. 9 to take a police report from Nino, Alayo acted as her Spanish-language interpreter. Cummings stated that Steiding, too, allegedly identified Alayo as Subject 1 in the photos.

The detective further noted that a criminal-history check of Alayo shows felony and misdemeanor convictions from three states for charges including: Forging public records, assault and battery, obstructing justice, failure to appear in court and conspiracy/fencing. He also received a revocation of a suspended sentence and probation.

Police executed the warrant Oct. 24 and seized, among other things, a black T-shirt with the Puma logo and the word "soccer" on it. Following their arrest for credit-card theft, Alayo and Nino were both given dates to appear in General District Court.

Nino did so last Monday, Jan. 22, before Judge Ian O'Flaherty, and the charge against her was dropped. Alayo, however, went a different route. He was slated to appear Jan. 5 and, when he didn't, O'Flaherty issued a bench warrant for him and continued his case to Jan. 22.

But when Alayo again proved a no-show, the judge continued the case to Feb. 28. He also stipulated that the bench warrant for the Centreville man's arrest remain in effect.