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California man arrested in theft of Olympic gold medal

The 2020 gold medal, which has not been found, was stolen from the car of U.S. women’s volleyball starting setter Jordyn Poulter in Anaheim on May 25.
Jordyn Poulter
Jordyn Poulter of the U.S. in a women's volleyball quarterfinal match against the Dominican Republic at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo on Aug. 4.Frank Augstein / AP file

A man suspected of stealing an Olympic champion’s gold medal has been arrested in Southern California, but the prize from the 2020 Tokyo Games remains missing.

The medal was stolen from the car of U.S. women’s volleyball player Jordyn Poulter while it was in a garage in Anaheim in late May, police said.

Jordan Fernandez, 31, of Anaheim, was charged Tuesday with first-degree residential burglary, second-degree vehicle burglary, identity theft and possession of narcotics, police said.

Poulter, 24, the starting setter, and the U.S. women’s volleyball team made history by winning their first Olympic gold, sweeping Brazil, at the 2020 Tokyo Games, which were delayed to last year.

Poulter, who is training in California and living in Anaheim, left the medal in a bag in her unlocked car when she parked it in a two-car garage with the garage door open May 25. She said she ran in for a quick Zoom call and that when she returned, the center console was open and the bag was gone.

“I really unintentionally forgot to take it out,” Poulter said Tuesday.

Fernandez was arrested Friday, police said. Court records show he was arraigned Tuesday and pleaded not guilty and that he was being held in jail.

There was no immediate reply to an email sent to an address that appeared from records to belong to Fernandez’s public defender.

Poulter is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the return of the medal, no questions asked, Anaheim police said.

“Our goal is really just to get Jordyn her medal back,” Sgt. Jacob Gallacher said.

The Olympic gold at the 2020 Games, which were held in 2021 after they were postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, was the first for the U.S. women’s volleyball team. The U.S. women swept Brazil 3-0 in the finals.

The U.S. women’s team had won three silvers — in 2012, 2008 and 1984 — and two bronze medals, but it had never gold.

Poulter said she still doesn't expect to get the medal back.

“It doesn’t take away from what we accomplished,” Poulter said. “The gold medal is kind of the artifact from that, that each of us 12 will take with us forever — but the history books will tell of what we did.”