Second church thief pleads guilty

Thursday, June 2, 2016 8:01 PM

The second of two men arrested in the theft of more than $14,000 from a Bayfield church pleaded guilty on Tuesday to identity theft, a class 4 felony.

Lucas Charles Gallegos, of Mancos, will be sentenced 8 a.m. on July 18. His co-defendant, Royce Cowan, of Durango, also pleaded guilty in May, and sentencing is set for 9 a.m. on June 27.

According to police records, Cowan stole a credit card belonging to Pine Valley Foursquare Church in September from a purse an employee left at the McDonald's on West College Drive.

The employee told police when she returned later to retrieve her purse, she noticed items missing, but did not realize the church's Wal-Mart credit card was among the stolen items.

From Jan. 12 to Feb. 8, Cowan and Gallegos racked up thousands of dollars at Walmart stores in Cortez, Durango and Farmington, purchasing televisions, video games, stereo systems and cell phones, among other items.

"A painstaking investigation resulted in the identity of Gallegos and Cowan as suspects in the fraudulent purchases," Durango police said in a March statement shortly after the arrests.

Police found several thousand dollars worth of stolen property and a small amount of methamphetamine after a search warrant was executed on Cowan's Durango West I home.