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Man who stole thousands by posing as coin-cashing employee sentenced to prison

When Richard Pena was arrested in December 2021, he had 1.5 million coins worth around $130,000 in his hotel room, officials said.

A Nevada man who posed as a coin-cashing company employee to steal thousands of dollars from devices at grocery and other stores in several states was sentenced to four years in prison Thursday, prosecutors said.

Richard Pena, 34, dressed as a worker for a coin-cashing company, pretended to be there to service the machines and then broke into them and then walked out with the coin vaults, the U.S. attorney’s office for Oregon said.

The prosecutor’s office said Pena “repeated this ruse dozens of times” to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars as he traveled from Las Vegas to Oregon in a van.

Stolen coin vaults located in the back of a rented U-Haul van that was used in the crime.
Stolen coin vaults found in the back of a rented U-Haul van that was used in the crime.U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Oregon

When he was arrested in Washington state in December 2021, sheriff’s deputies found 1.5 million coins worth around $133,000 in bags and laundry baskets, according to court documents.

An alert store employee contacted police, which led to the arrest, prosecutors said.

Pena was indicted in March 2022 on charges of conspiracy and interstate transportation of stolen property. He agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy in a plea agreement in February, records show.

Pena was also sentenced to $581,858 in restitution, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Damage to the machines and losses amounted to $715,000, it said.

Coins that were recovered by authorities.
Some of the coins that were recovered by authorities.U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Oregon

The break-ins occurred in 2021. Pena broke into machines from Las Vegas, where he lives, to the Portland area, prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo.

“This was not pocket change. Defendant typically stole thousands of dollars at each store and often hit multiple machines a day,” prosecutors wrote.

Federal public defenders wrote in a sentencing memo that Pena was motivated by an untreated substance abuse disorder and that at the time of the crimes he was using “a significant amount of methamphetamine daily.”

Prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed on the 48-month sentence and the restitution.